Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas

In the age of Facebooks and blogs and other social media to call someone “friend” means, what, precisely? An encounter – a chance – that brings a click of a virtual “button” that creates an ephemeral connection across wires and waves of electricity, and leaves a name in a list of hundreds or thousands of other names and changes nothing, really? Is that what it means to be “friends”?
For some of us, that will suffice, and nothing more is needed. For others, “social network” describes but a small part of relationship, and “friend” points to some deeper way of relating across time and distance. To address an utterly open note to “friends” likely names addressees of both extremes and various places along a continuum of friendship.
Wherever you place yourself in relation to we happy few Lederle/Ensigns, may this holiday note find you enjoying a grace-filled season of light and hope, joy and peace. What else are friends for, other than holding one another together in light and hope, joy and peace, no matter the season or circumstance, and it takes friends like you for the living of these days.
2010. Wow. Snowpacalypserecord heat wave … an earthquake. In metro DC, 2010 merits at least an “I survived …” t-shirt. Throw in the lunar eclipse on a beautiful clear winter solstice night and we’re verging on a year of Biblical proportions in our little corner of the world.

Oddly enough, while all of these actually newsworthy things were going on all around us, the Lederle-Ensign household enjoyed no particularly newsworthy moments. It remains true that, like Lake Woebegone, the men here are good looking, the women are strong and, of course, all of the children are above average! And, it’s been, all things considered, a quiet year here in our Lake Woebegone.
The very strong Mom and the good-looking Dad remain happily, gainfully employed, and certainly aware that such is not to be taken for granted in these or any days. The above average kids remain more or less happily engaged in also above average schools, although the kids are only marginally aware that such is also not to be taken for granted. The great blessing of childhood remains being blissfully unaware that such things as decent schools are rare and precious. The journey into adulthood is the growing awareness, and the journey into responsible adulthood is the deepening commitment to make such simple things less rare. The deepest joy of parenting is watching children grow into just such living, and that joy has been the highlight of this year for us.

The closest to newsworthy any of our lives got this year was probably the big news that Hannah became a middle schooler, and that Mom and Dad have officially completed the raising of elementary school children! As with most middle schoolers, Hannah is expanding her horizons considerably. She has started running at school, and joined Dad and Bud in completing a 5-mile Turkey Trot run on Thanksgiving morning. She also ran a 5k with her Girls on the Run group at school. She continues to play her flute, and made the Arlington County 6th grade honors band. The biggest news, though, in Hannah’s life is that her best, best, best friend in the all the world, Josie, is coming home from Tunisia in a few months and will be stateside for an entire school year. We look forward to endless middle school girl sleepovers. Please keep us in your prayers!

Speaking of your prayers, Martin is going to be driving in the new year. Actually, we are looking forward to that a bit. Can you say, “little sister taxi”? Of course, that would mean that Martin can find time between school, orchestra rehearsals, mandolin playing, drawing, and swim team … oh, and girlfriend. Apparently Mom and Dad are not the only ones who find Martin adorable with his long, curly locks, ready grin and exceptionally quick wit. He is half way through his junior year, and has decided that the good looks and quick wit alone may not get him where he wants to go, so he has become a much more focused student this fall. Part of that focus will be a 10-day Spanish immersion experience in Costa Rica in mid-January … which, apart from the language studying part, sounds pretty heavenly just about now. Martin is beginning to think about what comes next, and it’s a whole lot of fun to listen and watch as he ponders and sorts.

Bud, who outside of the family has finally grown into his given name – Dylan – is, as his sister says, “an interesting boy.” More accurately, he has grown from an interesting boy into an interesting young man. He’s on track to graduate from Mary Washington in the spring of 2012 – a full year ahead of his class – and he’s busy making grad school and Peace Corps plans. He and three friends share an on campus apartment in a brand new MW facility that is waaaaayyyy nicer than anything his parents ever lived in through all of our school – full kitchen, marble countertops, oven, microwave, dishwasher, 2 baths. Oh, and each of the guys has a girlfriend who lives in the same building. He is living the good life, and has the good sense and grace to recognize it. He continues to enjoy the academic side of school as well, and is holding down an on campus tech support job and playing on the school’s club ultimate Frisbee team.

It is altogether fitting that the descriptions of our kids’ lives grow longer, richer and fuller year by year, and it is probably no surprise that the descriptions of our own grow increasingly familiar. Cheryl continues to love her work as an education outreach specialist at the Library of Congress and I still love serving the little congregation at Clarendon. She’s been at the library for more than seven years now, and I’ve been at Clarendon for seven and a half. She keeps teaching and I keep preaching, and as often as time and weather permit we’ll sit on our front porch at the end of the day, sip a glass of good wine, watch the sunset, and drink to the rich simplicity of our lives.

There is much to be said for living in the same house long enough to plant a tree and watch it grow taller than the house, though I never thought that I’d be the one saying it. On the other hand, each of us plants seeds everywhere we go, whether we intend to or not. At our best, we tend to them and something beautiful grows. We gave our older kids and our older nieces Kiva dollars to make microloans, and the cards carry this reminder: it is not naïve to believe that you cannot change the world; it is naïve to believe that you don’t. The only question is, will you be intentional about the changes that you make?
It is through the compassion and love of friends that we find the power to make the changes that we want to make in the world. Thank you for being such friends.
David, Cheryl, Bud, Martin and Hannah. Christmas, 2010.


Nickname unavailable said...

Love to all of you, our Kentucky offspring of sorts. We are separated geologically, but not spiritually.

Joyce said...

Nice to catch up with you all. Blessings this Christmas!

Heidi said...

Thank you Cheryl and David for taking the time to share your elegantly simple life. I appreciate it. You help me to remember to appreciate my simple life too.
All the best in the new year to you all and please continue to keep me "posted" and in your prayers, as I keep you in mine.
as ever,