This is me, with my two daughters, Corinne and Vanessa. As we came home from church today, Cori hit me with a gripe that my family New Year's letter was written primarily to make my kids look stupid.
I didn't say anything about their not needing my help, because I'm not that kind of a mother.
The thing is, we get a fair number of family updates from these hyper achieving families we've met and loved in our vagabond lives, all with tales of jaw-dropping successes and experiences.
I want you to know, we think the world of every single one of these families. For reasons I can't begin to understand we have always had these uber cool friends, no matter where we've lived. The only thing I can figure is, when we all get to heaven, they'll receive special awards for their charity work on the Handy Family Reclamation Project.
But there's a dark side to hanging with the awesome crowd, and in this case it's their annual family update letters, which make us look like tree sloths only with less ambition and imagination. I mean, seriously, who could compete with the following? (I am not making up any of this, except the things that I do, in fact, make up)
- J & J, who spent two weeks cycling through Tuscanny on a tandem bicycle. J & J also have three remarkable kids, one of whom is their beautiful daughter, M, who graduated from Stanford, which she attended on a rowing scholarship.
- C & S, who went to Ireland for their 25th wedding anniversary.
- J & C, whose oldest son S graduated from Duke law school, finishing a perfect record of straight A's since kindergarten. You heard me: Straight A's from kindergarten through college and finally Duke law.
- P & S, who married off one of their darling daughters, and who sent pix of a vacation in an unnamed locale that seemed to be ancient ruin and history intensive. These guys know how to travel; their letters always say things like "We enjoyed a family holiday on the International Space Station, followed by two weeks with the Norwegian Royal Family at their villa in Grundelmunne, Switzerland." (OK, I made up that last one. I think Grundelmunne is actually in Austria.)
- L & E, who spent two weeks in the Holy Land. E also has made it a tradition to travel to Germany every Christmas and buy gifts from the little Bavarian shops. Their kids toured Asia, the Holy Land, and Europe. And their daughter L is planning on doing her honors' thesis at Cambridge after a stint in South Africa. Incidentally, their kids are so truly brilliant and so astonishingly hardworking, that they have never paid a dime in college expenses - we're talking tuition, books, housing, keg parties - all on scholarship money. (Again, I kid. BYU doesn't allow you to use your scholarship money for keg parties. The kids have to cover those with government grants.)
Nevertheless, my kids are really great. Despite my best efforts, they have grown up to be good, smart, faithful, funny, normal human beings. And their achievements this year deserve more credit than what I gave them in our family letter.
So, starting with David: Along with getting engaged, he attended Leadership Training -- um, something starting with 'C' with the Army ROTC. He gets great grades, is an incredibly loyal friend, absolutely adores his bride-to-be, calls his parents just to chat, and texts his grandmother regularly. He also bought an engagement ring he could afford, and is planning a honeymoon with the same attention to fiscal sensibility. That by itself is awesome.
Vanessa spent a semester touring England, Ireland, Wales, and finally Paris. She's a good student, with too many talents and interests for her own good. She's a fabulous photographer, and is always up for an adventure. She, too, calls just to gab, texts us multiple times every day, and bakes rolls for her roommates. She has a reputation for being able to stuff eleven tons of accumulated college crap into a student's car so they can travel home on their off-semester from BYU-I. And she does it completely without shoehorns.
Corinne is a member of National Honor Society and is a volunteering machine. She's very generous with her time and is also a fantastic student. She attends both high school and college, and does so while working a job (at a place that got shot at and then robbed on the same day - while she was there! - and which she still refuses to quit because she's pretty sure she's having a good influence on one guy she works with.) She has the best group of friends, all of whom attend the same school and who push one another to excel.
Jacob started high school and spent time on the cross country and wrestling teams. He's a very kind boy, except when awakened earlier than noon. And even then he apologizes and hands you back what's left of your head. He loves his older sibs so much, when they go back to school after these long breaks he really struggles with loneliness. He has a quick wit, he's active in our church youth group (the first of our four kids who happily attends the Wednesday night activities) and he's also a very loyal friend.
There! That's a better description of what my kids were up to during 2010. I know it's not as exciting as the wonderful lives some of our dear friends are living, but we're happy to report our family is loving, happy, healthy, and not any weirder than yours.
Can't ask for more than that, now, can we?