Dear Family and Friends,
Each year, when I compose this letter, I always go back and read last year’s Christmas letter to get myself in the mood to write the next one. This year, I decided to write this letter a little differently, organized in more of a compartmentalized format. I’m hoping it will keep me from rambling too much. Probably not, but we’ll see. Let’s start off easy.
Sports: When I left you last December, Alabama was headed for the college football playoffs as the #2 team in the nation. They won their playoff game against Michigan State 38-0 and went on to win a very hard fought and stressful game against Clemson 45-40 and be crowned the National Champions for the 16th time in school history. They are currently the #1 team in the country and slated for a playoff game vs. Washington on New Year’s Eve with a potential championship game vs. either Clemson or Ohio State on January 9th. Fingers crossed and Roll Tide! In other football news, Peyton Manning returned from his injuries at the end of last season and the Broncos marched their way right to San Francisco for Super Bowl 50, which they won in stellar defensive fashion against the Carolina Panthers. This proved to be the perfect ending to Peyton’s incredible football career as he decided to retire on March 7th. There were tears, but he got through it and so did I. In April, the North Carolina Tar Heels, after an up and down season, made it all the way to the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship game but unfortunately, lost on a last second shot. I couldn’t have been more proud of how they fought their way tooth and nail to that game. I even got to attend their ACC Tournament semi-final game as it was being played here in DC.
Travels: In May, I visited my college roommate Stefanie and her family in Georgia for about a week. We took a little side trip to Alabama to meet up with my bestie and college friend Angela. The three of us hadn’t been in the same room together in 17 years, so we thought it was time. Keeping up with each other through texts, social media, and phone calls just aren’t the same as being able to visit with someone in person. In summer, I returned to Colorado to visit with my friends the Leonard’s and Schwamb’s and attend Broncos Training Camp. I wasn’t sure how Peyton’s retirement would affect my passion for the game of football, but through training camp and the start of the season, I discovered that by being a fan of his, he taught me to love the game in general. While there, we got to explore Rocky Mountain National Park, and I attended the wedding of a fellow Broncos fan and former co-worker. In August, my friend Jessica and I went to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony to see Coach Tony Dungy and Marvin Harrison receive their gold jackets. This was our trial run for 5 years from now when Peyton is sure to receive his. We also decided we need to go back when it isn’t enshrinement weekend with thousands of people so we can see everything. In September, I traveled home for Lincoln’s birthday. He turned 9, and I’m still trying to figure out how we got to the last single digit birthday so quickly. I was home in November for Thanksgiving and also went to Georgia earlier this
month for Stefanie’s Ugly Christmas Sweater Party. I went to NYC a few more times this year to visit with my friend John and his husband Justin and to see a few more Broadway shows including the final performances of 4 original cast members of Something Rotten. The tour of that show starts in January. I highly recommend it if it makes it to a city near you. During one trip, I even got to see the planting of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree.
Visitors: In January, my sweet friend Anita came for a weekend visit. We did a little sightseeing, watched Hallmark movies, and shopped til we dropped. In March, Andy, Janet, and Lincoln visited me during their spring break. We went to the National Geographic Museum, National Zoo, the Natural History Museum, the Lincoln Memorial, and every cupcake shop we could find! We also saw a motorcade and walked by the FBI building. In June, Mom and Dad came for a visit. It had been a long time since they’d been able to come up because of dad’s chemo treatments last year. Plus, they needed to see our new baby panda, Bei Bei. We celebrated mom’s birthday, father’s day, and my birthday all in one night since we wouldn’t be together on the actual dates.
Health: Dad’s leukemia has remained in remission at each of his follow up appointments and scans, the most recent of which was this month. My doctor has reduced my diabetes medication to a ½ pill each day as I continue to move towards managing the disease without medication. One day I hope to be able to type that I’m no longer on the medication, and I really hope one day I can say I no longer have diabetes because they found a cure. By all accounts though, we are all in good health.
Family: Mom’s big news this year was she finally got to see Barbra Streisand in concert. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her so excited about something. Even days afterwards she was telling me that every time she thought about the concert it made her smile. Lincoln competed in swimming, engrossed himself in Pokémon, finished 2nd grade, and took 3rd grade by storm at a new school. He even sang in the chorus program a couple weeks ago. Janet is now working as an Instructional Mentor for Hillsborough County Schools to help new teachers get acclimated to their job. Andy finished all his post-graduation requirements with Hillsborough County to be eligible for an Assistant Principal position, and he was hired in the summer as the Assistant Principal at Benito Middle School, the same school where he was teaching.
Next Year: As I sat down to write this letter I found myself grateful we are just a few days away from closing the books on this year. Despite what you have just read, 2016 has not been easy emotionally. We lost a lot of good people to cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart attacks, AIDS, diabetes, and unspeakable violence. We watched a man stand at numerous podiums and give a voice to hate, racism, intolerance, assault, and general disrespectfulness. It has made my heart grow weary because I was raised in a home where those thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors were unacceptable. I was taught that we, as human beings, are basically good people and that in good times and bad, we take care of each other. However, this past year challenged that teaching and made me question how much I really know the people in my life as I watched people I love be persecuted. There’s a lady who stands in a harbor with her arm raised high lighting America with the lamp in her hand and teaching us from her tablet which states, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Those words are not unlike Jesus’s words in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” On my office wall at work hangs a quote from the late Coach Dean Smith that reads, “There is a point in every contest when sitting on the sidelines is not an option.” So, as the new year begins, I am grasping at hope that love, kindness, and understanding will rule over hate and fear. I pray we will learn to trust each other again by showing compassion and care to rid our country and this world of the pain it has known in 2016. Despite the potentially damaging decisions that may be made in the coming years by our country’s leadership, I pray our society will continue to progress and not regress in human and civil rights for all people, and if we do regress, I pray we all live to see us find a better way as I am determined to always shine a light in the darkness. I hope you will join me in this prayer.
Happy Holidays, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Season’s Greetings, Feliz Navidad, and Merry Christmas!