Monthly Archives: December 2011

Christmas Letter 2011

Center: Leann and Lincoln. Clockwise from top left: (1) Grandpa (the Cat in the Hat) and Lincoln. (2) Andy, Lincoln, and Grandpa ~ 3 generations. (3) Janet and Lincoln. (4) Mimi and Lincoln on his new bed. (5) Dad and Leann. (6) Mom and Leann. (7) Ti Keshia, Leann, Mandy, and Carla in LA. (8) Houndstooth ribbon painted on the field at Alabama to honor the tornado victims. (9) Leann standing on the glass skydeck ledge in Chicago. (10) Leann, Annie Kate, and Angela. (11) Mom in the snow. (12) Dad shoveling snow.

Here is this year’s Christmas letter.  Enjoy!

Dear Family and Friends,

I don’t know about y’all, but I have packed everything I can into one year.  As I begin to reflect on all that has happened, my halls are decked, my shopping is done, and writing to y’all is last on my Christmas list, so let’s get started because I do love crossing items off my to-do list.

One advantage to living here is how close I am to other metropolitan areas.  In January, I ventured north to New York City to see my very first Broadway play.  I’ve been to NYC before for the cursory tourist attractions, but this was just to see the play.  I saw “Driving Miss Daisy” starring James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave who were perfectly on par with Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy from the movie version.  Also in January, I visited my best friend, Angela, in Birmingham to meet her beautiful new daughter, Annie Kate.  I tried to hide Annie Kate in my luggage and bring her back with me, but she wouldn’t fit much to the elation of her mother.  Angela has been such a blessing in my life for so many years, and seeing her so happy with her family makes my heart smile.

In February, Andy’s USF Women’s Basketball team came up to play Georgetown.  Mom and dad decided to come, too.  It had snowed right before they came, and a good bit of it had not melted by the time they arrived, so dad got to shovel some snow that was still hanging out in my guest parking spot.  He didn’t seem all that enthused by it.  I really don’t understand why.

In March, Alabama’s Men’s Basketball team was invited to participate in the NIT, and they made it to the NIT Championship game at Madison Square Garden in NYC.  So, once more, I traveled north because I didn’t feel it appropriate for me not to be there with them so close.  Unfortunately, they lost the game to a Wichita State team that appeared to have brought their entire town.  Nevertheless, I was grateful along with my friend Ti Keshia to have the opportunity to be there for them.

And then April happened.  The Alabama Gymnastics team won its 5th National Championship.  It was their 27th appearance in the National Championship Competition.  For work, I traveled to Chicago for the first time, but with work completed and a little time before my flight, I took in the sights.  I toured the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower and stood out on the glass balcony ledge that extends about four feet out from the 103rd floor over the street below.  That’s 1,353 feet above ground with only a piece of glass under your feet.  It is AMAZING!  I also stopped to see the Michael Jordan statue at the United Center as all good Tar Heel fans should.

Sadly, I did not know that by the time I landed back in DC, a piece of my world would be torn to shreds.  During my flight an EF4 tornado ripped through Tuscaloosa, AL, a place that knows no other name to me but “home.”  This tornado tore a mile wide by 6 mile long path straight through the town that contributed greatly to the woman I am today.  When it was all over, more than 350 tornadoes were confirmed throughout the southeast over a three day period with 239 deaths in Alabama alone.  I am thankful everyday no one I personally know was harmed.  In the days since, we have witnessed from near and far that no matter our differences or disagreements or team pride, a tragedy of this magnitude pulls us together. People from every state in the country have helped with the relief efforts.

In May, I flew to Los Angeles to visit my friend Carla. She has lived there for many years, but I’d never worked in a visit until now.  She obliged my silly requests like a stop at the Rose Bowl to see where Alabama won its 13th National Championship, chicken and waffles at Roscoe’s, a trip to the Pacific Ocean, and a personal tour of ABC/Disney Studios.  I even made new friends in her roommate, Mandy and their puppies, DJ and Luke.  As luck would have it, while I was there, our friend Ti Keshia was in LA, too, so we got to meet her for dinner one night.  As you can imagine, it was VERY hard to leave.

As has become a tradition, Lincoln ran the bases at a few Tampa Bay Rays games this summer, but during one trip to Grandpa and Mimi’s he ran the bases at the Rays’s minor league affiliate.  This was special though as he got to be in a tag team race with the Charlotte Stone Crabs mascot, Stoney.  Stoney usually races against and loses to the kid runner, but this time Stoney and Lincoln competed against two others.  It was the first time Stoney (with Lincoln’s help) actually won the race.

By July, I’d stayed away long enough, and I took a trip to Alabama to see the damage myself and volunteer with the tornado relief efforts.  It took my breath away when I turned that first corner into town where I could see the destruction.  It felt like the world froze, and it broke my heart all over, again.  While I was there, I helped with organizing a warehouse where every day items are stored and distributed to those in need.  I also got the opportunity to spend some time with my friends, the Cunninghams, who I hadn’t seen in ages.  They are always gracious in opening their home when I come for a visit.  I also made quick stops to see Angela and her family in Birmingham and my friends Tom, Anita, and Jilian in Huntsville before I headed back to DC.  Jilian even gave up her Disney Princess bed to me so I could spend the night.  It was a rollercoaster of emotions during my July Alabama Tour, but it was worth every minute.

In August, my annual work conference took me to Las Vegas for the first time, and I have to admit, I finally understood what a dry heat was. It was still ridiculously hot, but not sticky like it is in the South.  The bulk of entertainment value in that city is lost on me because I’m not a big gambler, but I did enjoy the food and the fountain show at the Bellagio among other attractions, but I failed in getting a quickie wedding.  At the end of my trip, I crossed off a bucket list item and saw Garth Brooks live.  It was fabulous.  He puts on a heck of a show, and if you get the opportunity…GO!

Lincoln turned 4…FOUR…in September, and we all celebrated with a pool party.  It was the first time he’d gotten to invite his school friends to his birthday party, and they were all adorable to watch.  At his 4 year old appointment, our 2lb 14 oz, 16 ¼ inch preemie, weighed 45lbs and was 43 inches tall.  He’ll talk your ear off about dinosaurs and animals if you let him, and he’s smart as a whip, but I’m not biased at all.

In October, I did something I haven’t done in 11 years.  I went to homecoming at Alabama.  I took in the bon fire, watched the parade with my friends the Heggems, and thanks, again, to the Cunninghams, attended the Alabama/Vanderbilt homecoming game, which Alabama won 34-0.  Tuscaloosa was much easier to see this time around because I could see a lot of progress in debris removal and rebuilding preparations.  It’ll take time, but they are going to come back from this better than ever.

I was home for Thanksgiving.  Andy and the team were invited to the Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage, so I didn’t get to see him while I was home.  Still not sure if they could see Russia from their hotel rooms.  I did get to see Janet and Lincoln who came down to mom and dad’s for Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping.  I’m staying here in DC for Christmas, but mom and dad are coming up for New Year’s when they will see “The Jersey Boys” for the gazillionth time.  It’ll be my first time seeing the show though.

Well, that about wraps it up.  As I said, I don’t think I could’ve packed anymore into one year.  I hope your year has been just as jam packed with blessings and memories you’ll never forget.  I’m sending y’all warm thoughts, lots of hugs, and wishes for a spectacular year to come.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

Leann

P.S. Roll Tide Roll ~ 01/09/2012