Friday, December 7, 2012

2012 Christmas Letter

Dear Readers,
Normally, I don't post my Christmas letter on the blog, but alas the flu captured my last lingering braincells.  Most of my Christmas card recipients get the blessing of two FIRST pages of the annual sappy, nostalgic, long-winded letter and so to correct my flu-induced error, I post here the full monty.  Pardon me for the gushing and  moosh that I can't seem to suspend for the sake of a simple re-capturing of our year.  What follows is the ranting of a wife and momma who can't get enough of her family or her God.  I apologize in advance :-)  Merry Christmas to all!

Dear Ones,

Here we are—you and I—joined yet again by ink and parchment to catch up on the chronicles of full lives.  Like looking into a star-filled sky where a million lights litter the heavens, our lives are so full, it is hard to locate only the larger constellations to share.  But do come sit with me a spell; we’ll find the Milky Way together.

Twice in one year I’ve felt a tearing that left me breathless, left me aching:  Nate started his seventh grade school year, and Cort left the world of single digits for the greater glory of being a ten year old. (Don’t laugh at my melodrama!  When they get married, I’m gonna curl up and die!)  How could it have happened so quickly?  Surely it was just yesterday we were photographing Nathan tangled in wooden cranberry strands.  And only moments ago, wasn’t I still hoisting Corton about on my hip?  To write these words—that I have only five and a half years left with Nate at home full-time—seems a stain, a blot of black ink on this page.  They don’t linger long enough, do they?  And I lose my breath thinking of it all.

For this reason, and a few others, we decided to sell our home at Hood Acres.  Hers was an aesthetic beauty we may never again find (or have the energy to create ourselves), and yet she was a demanding lady to love.  Much of our time was taken in keeping her.  But sweet boys growing into strong men?  They don’t wait.  So, in a Gideon’s-fleece-step-of-faith, we put her on the market trusting God would make it clear if we were to let her go.  Within a week, 241 Hood Acres was sold for full asking price.  That is a pillar we will look back on, stand on, in moments of nostalgia. (And there have been a few.) We left more than neighbors there, we left a family.  And sometimes the large constellations hold great hurt, don’t they?

Under a grey sky, cider and cocoa in hands, my sister and I attended the Kris Kringle Market this year where a friend was selling beautiful word signs.  I selected one that said, “We may not have it all together, but together, we have it all.”  It’s corny, I know, but the four of us are together, and isn’t that, in the end, what makes home?  The ones you love?  I believe so. Now, we find ourselves nestled in a castle-like bungalow with lovely oak floors and windows insisting the sun come in each day for a visit.  45 Wiley Road begins a new chapter for our family—one where we celebrate and seize every moment as an irreplaceable gift. 

I should tell you that Nathan had his first taste of tackle football this year.  He faced boys twice his size with stoic courage and quite a bit of Olver grit.  He also continues to play any other sport he can find like Ultimate Frisbee and airsoft.  (What happened to the rule about no guns we made when they were babies?)  He’s still an avid reader; I find myself sharing more and more of the books I read with Nate. And if you want to know a football fact?  Nate’s your man. This summer he was trusted to help as a junior counselor at Canal Lake Bible Camp.  He worked.  Hard.  Mopping, moving chairs, etc. . . . and perhaps a few pranks.  (Nathan, how was the youth pastor’s car wrapped in cellophane again?)  When his Nana decided to go to Brazil on a mission’s trip, Nathan began Paracords for Paradise, a survival bracelet business that helps mission outreaches. A passion for a good joke, a willingness to do whatever is necessary to help in any situation, a viral love of football, and a firm commitment to following Christ seem to sum up the heart of our prince.

Then there is the issue of our other prince—the one that is sometimes difficult to see because unlike his black and red clothed brother, Corton prefers camouflage and browns.  When Nate colored his hair “Bulldog Red” this year, Cort was asked if he wouldn’t like to color his too. He replied, “Nope.  I like mine just the way it is—the color of dirt.”  A God-breathed love of the earth marinates in this boy’s marrow, of that there is no question.  Erecting forts from found woodland fodder, collecting colorful leaves, whispering to wild dogs until they’ve been tamed, sketching a tree—these are the great loves of our youngest.  The spring found us plopped in patches of grass cheering as Cort flew across soccer fields.  A perfect day for Cort this past autumn was when he claimed he spent “five hours doing science” which in reality meant he was down at the creek digging for crawdads, catching minnows, salamanders and mud puppies.  Cort loves all things Abraham Lincoln, John Deer, Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer.  He tended our neighbors’ dogs while they were away, and regularly attempts to catch or at least touch wild birds and squirrels.  And in those moments when your spirit may be a bit down, but you think you’ve concealed it well, it will be Corton that shows up with a beautiful blue bird feather or sprig of Indian paintbrush to cheer you.  That is Corton:  the woodland spirit that brings beauty and laughter wherever he wanders.

For Jeff and I the days are spent fire-fighting/EMT’ing (Jeff) and teaching (me).  There was another Spartan race, a thumb surgery, and HONEYBEES to occupy Jeff this year.  For myself, there was The Writer’s Guild, clothing drives, fundraising for charities, and coordinating a wedding.  There were family trips to waterfalls, kayaking the French Broad, Jeremy Camp, Winter Jam and Celebrate Freedom concerts, (because when you have kids you attend concerts again no matter how long the line to get in may be) and a long awaited trip to Canada where we celebrated Jeff’s mom’s 60th birthday as well as reunited with Jeff’s brothers, their children, and many dear friends.  Corton was especially pleased to have his cousin Aidan attend camp with him for the first time this year. (We hope it becomes a tradition.) 

Time has this way of spinning, life has this way of perpetual motion, boys have this way of growing, and Jeff and I just try to keep up with it all.  I’ve traded Goodnight Moon for The Hobbit and Sherlock Holmes, squirt guns for airsoft guns, and sweet smelling babes for babbling boys that sometimes smell like river trout.  And for all the wealth, all the wonder of the wide, wide world, I’d not trade one moment of life with our family.  Of course there are sorrows, moments when we wonder, when we question, when we seek something more.  The phone rings, a friend has lost their child, and we are left asking why.    “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. “ (I Cor. 13:12)  We don’t understand everything now—only portions are ours for the grasping.  But there will come a day when our faith will be as sight, when we will fully gain understanding.  Until then, I say with Mary, “May it be unto me, Father, as you have said.”  And we echo Joshua’s heart, as for us and our house, we keep serving, keeping holding fast to the Creator, the Father of heavenly lights—the Father of all those constellations.  In the end, that’s what Christmas is to our family . . . a reminder of the Jesus that sprinkled the stars that span our little world.  May your world be full of His light this season.

  With love,

  The Olver Family


 Us in a Nutshell
 Kayaks, hikes, rivers, football, tree climbing, airsoft,
 Canal Lake Bible Camp, honeybees, educating at home,
  firefighting,  laughing, family, and God.