An unvarnished Christmas letter
Dear family and friends,
Well, another year is almost on the books. And 2017 was quite a doozie, wasn’t she?
Well, the Uebbing family was no exception to the general turmoil and upheaval that seemed to mark this blessed calendar year as borderline apocalyptic: 3 moves, the purchase of 2 houses, endless rounds of antibiotics, black mold, a blown up transmission and a sweet new baby due to arrive imminently who we’ve considered nicknaming “Marquette.”
Yes, it was a good year, full of surprises and carefully curated moments you can’t find on Instagram, both because my account is largely inactive and because it would possibly be illegal to share such raw emotion.
Let’s address the elephant in the room right off the bat: yes, we’re having “another one” and yes, we know “what causes that” and no, we don’t have any particularly hard and fast numbers to give those of you who are scratching your heads wondering how many more we’re going to have. But we’re not smugly holding out on you, we promise! We’re just not totally sure ourselves.
Figured we’d get the bedroom talk out of the way from the starting gate, in an effort to keep this as true to life as possible. If the guy in the Santa hat at the gas station trying to sell me windshield degreaser wants to know how many weeks along I am and how close together my contractions are and whether my husband has a surgery scheduled, surely you, internet friend or stranger, has similarly pressing questions.
How are the children this year? I’m so glad you asked! I can’t wait to list out their achievements and honors for you in an effort to communicate to you how good we are at this parenting gig:
Our oldest child, Joseph, is a delightful 7-year-old who has shown a beautiful capacity for media consumption and screen time. It’s almost like he needs no training or instruction whatsoever in how to fire up electronic devices!
I predict he will be an early texter and we couldn’t be more proud of this completely intuitive and masterful skill sure to be put to good use when coordinating how to cut class in middle school. We have responded to his natural aptitude by eschewing all devices in the home in order to facilitate his native skills, because “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” and so with the exception of mommy’s 4 year-old laptop, he has almost no exposure to technology of any kind. This makes his antics at grandma’s house when he spies an iPad on top of the fridge even more delightful for all parties involved.
We know that by depriving him of the crack-like reward of glowing screens, we’ll probably have a monster on our hands come adolescence, and we can’t wait to see what his little mind comes up with in an attempt to thwart our draconian regulations!
Joey also enjoys wearing the same stinky, lime green Ninja Turtle hoodie to school day after day in flagrant violation of dress code, and engaging in convincing self talk with, well, himself, but also with his teachers, convincing them that the cupcakes, pizza, cookies, and whatever other treats that present themselves in the classroom week after week in an endless parade of GI issues are “probably gluten free.” He will make a fine politician or a trial lawyer one day. He is a charming smooth talker, a surprisingly sensitive guy’s guy, and a really great big brother.
Next in line is John Paul, who, at 5 and a half, is more sensitive and serious than your grandfather. He enjoys sitting alone and staring into space, reciting profound and sometimes bizarre contemplations from the unplumbed depths of his startling mind, and cutting and gluing things. He takes frequent “sick days” from kindergarten, which turn out to be mental health days about 14 minutes after his ride to school departs, at which point he appears, sans pajamas, decked out in business casual and requesting our itinerary for the day. Every time I swear I’m not going to fall for it, but every time his Shakespearean acting skills win me over.
John Paul is also our most naturally pious child, preferring to tattle on any and all siblings and cousins rather than miss a single opportunity for a wayward perp to repent and get right with God. At least, I’m sure that’s what motivates him.
He has a strong sense of justice and can recall the nature and number of transgressions made against him and his personal property dating back to around age 2. He taught himself how to ride a two wheeler in response to his elder brother’s prowess, and he has a mean wrestling takedown move that handily levels the playing field, despite the 18 month gap between them. His other hobbies include fasting at dinnertime and then eating a light supper of clementines and whatever scraps I relent to throw to him at 9 pm in an effort to get him to JUST GO TO BED.
He is a man who knows what he wants, and he is not afraid to get it. He’s also a master snuggler, detail oriented, and most likely to remember something about you that will help him make your life better in some way, whether it’s how you take your coffee or the name of your favorite band.
Genevive. Freshly four. Our only daughter. Speaks sometimes entirely in cat noises, even at school. I retrieved her one fine day in November and was informed by her teacher that “well, instead of talking, she just meowed all day,” which tells me she is naturally suited for Montessori work and probably a genius to boot.
When she’s not at school, her passions in life include lobbying me to take her to Starbucks, pretending to breastfeed her growing collection of stuffed cats, and informing me of the minutiae of her bodily functions. She is devastatingly pretty and charms strangers with a bashful flutter of her long eyelashes at the grocery store before climbing into her carseat and throwing a 20-minute long tantrum so loud that I have been tempted to hang my head out the window like a dog just to make it home. She loves 70s music (Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Paul Simon), taking off her clothes, and cats, and I predict she is going to be the most interesting teenager on the planet. She is also disarmingly affectionate and sensitive under all the swagger and screaming, and loves her some mommy time, particularly if cuddles in her rocking chair are involved.
Luke. “Luke the Duke,” we dubbed him almost from birth. It’s fitting, as he is now a nearly 40-pound 2 year old who speaks at a 1st grade level, wears 3 and 4T clothes, and is utterly convinced that he is the same age and aptitude as his two older brothers. He has the entire Dave Matthews Album “Under the Table and Dreaming” memorized, and yes, I’m a little embarrassed about that.
He has a big round belly of his own which, he tells strangers, is “due any day now,” and he long ago mastered the push-n-scale technique involving a tall chair, the refrigerator, and whatever perishable item happens to be on the lowest shelf. Some of his highlight reel conquests involve an entire Costco vat of hummus, a dozen eggs, an avocado with the skin on, and on a particularly memorable occasion last summer, a raw jalapeño.
He loves Christmas but does not love Santa, which he urgently informs me at each blow-up Kris Kringle we pass in our daily drives in and out of the neighborhood. He is adept at fetching his own wipes and diapers, which almost makes up for the speed at which he goes through them. He is the delight of our hearts and the mortal terror of the family cat.
Obviously we both couldn’t be more pleased with our beautiful, talented children who play no sports, are involved in zero activities, and are still responding really well to food-based bribery for behavior in Mass.
(One out of four is completely potty trained, too, so naturally, we are wondering if we need to look into some kind of gifted program.)
We hope your Christmas is blessed, beautiful, and filled with the gentle sound of quietly bickering siblings and the creak of the fridge door being opened over and over and over again. And please, sweet baby Jesus, no stomach bugs this year.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.
The Uebbing family