Dear family and friends,
As I sit here flipping through pictures of 2015, looking for the ones that mark the big events, reflecting on our year, wondering what in the world is worthy of a Christmas letter mention, I am struck by the pure joy I see reflected in all these photos. My kids’ eyes sparkle; their smiles are contagious. Another year of parenting and Daxson and I are becoming accomplished students, learning to see the world through these little people’s eyes. I thought I’d share with you a few lessons we’ve learned this past year…
There is magic in everything. No really, I mean everything. Not just in the big moments, like when William managed to lose both front teeth within a few days of each other and then anxiously waited to see if the tooth fairy would manage to make it twice in one week (which she miraculously did!) or when they hopped up and down at the discovery of trinkets in their slippers on St. Nicholas’ feast day, but in the little things, as well. Like the way Katie is swept away, as Cinderella, to a ball when she dances with her brothers or the way Andrew can magically change his character just based on a pair of shorts (the black ones are Batman; the red ones are Superman). But the beauty of magic in their world is that there doesn’t have to be definitive proof…the belief is enough to fuel their imaginations. I recently watched Joseph building a little fairy house by the pecan tree, arranging and rearranging his creation until it was just right. And when it was done, he explained that fairies would feel welcome there. Then he looked over and added an afterthought…just in case they really do exist. And in their world, the possibility is just as sweet as the reality.
More often than not, life is about the process, not the product. This past summer we had a Tinkerlab. I went in with it all organized and I had a book that gave ideas on how to build things. I imagined exactly how it was going to go…the kids would sit down, all orderly, and I’d hand out supplies and we’d build exactly what the book suggested. But somehow they made it to the Tinkerlab supplies before I did and what I saw (after the initial holy cow! that’s a mess! thought) astounded me. They were building beautiful creations without any guidance, without any rules. So I left them to it. Some of their projects turned out (like Andrew’s chair that looks so unsteady but is actually a favorite resting spot in the backyard, even for adults); other projects turned into something else along the way (like William’s homemade instrument that somehow managed to transform into a rocket); and some projects were just never finished (like Joseph’s long thought out machine that was going to recycle whatever you put in it). But it really didn’t matter…it was the feel of the goop in their hands, the flubber bouncing off the floor, the sawdust in their hair…it was the process, not the product. A valuable lesson in a society that only seems to value performance. A quiet reminder that sometimes the beauty lies mainly in the journey.
Joy is meant to be simple. Not complicated. It’s not meant to require advanced planning and foresight or a list of supplies that breaks the bank. Sometimes I get caught up in what friends are doing or the latest blog about the best way to teach this or that and I forget. I forget that simple is good. And memorable. And magical. A cup of hot cocoa on a cold winter night. A walk around the neighborhood, hand in hand. A sunset and the chance to take their lanterns out to play hide and seek in the dark. A first camping trip with cousins in the woods, free to laugh loud and run free. The simple traditions that define our family life: Waffle Wednesday, family game night, movie night, ice cream every Sunday afternoon, early morning snuggles. It isn’t the material goods that make them happy. Or the millions of Pinterest projects. It’s the people. The relationships. The time we spend together, laughing and building memories. It’s what’s hidden in the simplicity of life that makes their world a place of joy.
Mercy. Forgiveness. Peace. Understanding. I lose my temper and yell at a child or I get lost on my phone texting while they wait, wide-eyed, vying for my attention. I look up and catch their unmasked adoration and I repent. And they forgive. Over and over again. Each day is new. Fresh without yesterday’s mess. They offer me mercy and forgiveness. They fill my heart with peace and understanding, only because their entire world is built on a foundation of peace and understanding. They possess a childlike faith in humanity. They exhibit unconditional love. Their hearts are pure and innocent, untarnished by the harsh realities of life and I revel in their spirits. I find myself just wanting to be near them because I know their ways will become my ways if I just allow myself to soak up their wisdom and faith.
I close this year (and this letter!) with a heart full of gratitude. I am thankful for a year of beautiful memories with this little family of mine. I am thankful for a marriage that continues to grow and is strengthened by the trials we face. The struggle is real, but having a partner who is steadfast and supportive makes the crosses encountered easier to bear. I am thankful for another year spent homeschooling my children, learning alongside them, delighting in each new adventure, praising God for each hurdle overcome. Thankful for the richness of good health, steady work for Daxson and prosperity. Thankful for friends and family that are so dear to our hearts. Thankful to have each and everyone of you in our lives.
May God bless you with a magical season filled with all the things that make us worthy to be loved…mercy, forgiveness, peace, understanding and unconditional love. And here’s to hoping you get to experience 2016 with childlike wonder and faith.
With love from The Saterys:
Daxson, Stacie, Joseph (8), William (6), Andrew (4), and Katelyn (2)