An open holiday letter

holiday greetings

Season’s Greetings, all.

With our world shrinking and our online interaction widening, sending a holiday greeting card by traditional mail makes less and less sense for me. For the past few years I’ve addressed and mailed cards with a conflicted heart: who do I leave off the list? People I haven’t seen in ages? People I see all the time? People I’ve never met in person but talk to every day online? There are so many of you I want to reach: writerly friends across the globe, travel journalists I see only a few times per year, family who lives primarily on my Facebook page or on the phone. I don’t want to be limited, and I don’t want to abandon what I cherish as a holiday tradition.

So I invite you here, those of you who also like to balance the accounts at the end of each year, weighing the good and the bad and watching to see how the scales tip. Take a moment to take stock: acknowledge your victories. Lick your wounds. Document your kids’ milestones and your growth as a family. Measure time the best you know how, and I’ll do the same.

2012 brought us both professional success and professional frustration. As a writer and a commissioned salesperson, we were jostled by more than one bump in the economy. We made it through without our kids wanting, and we should be proud of this. Instead, we’re just fall-down tired. I imagine many of you know the feeling. I worked harder, day in and day out, than I’ve ever worked in my life, and I have both a lot to show for it and very little to show for it. I completed a novel, won awards for essays like this one, and wrote for some pretty big brands and magazines as I built a freelance travel-writing reputation. While the former will never make me rich, it’s gratifying to know the latter can make me a living.

The kids grew exponentially in 2012, but you already know that. You either know them personally, or know them through this site, or know that generally speaking, kids grow. Things change, and things stay the same, and for us, it went in the usual way: seasons turning, family adapting, time flying. We traveled, of course. More than ever before. We mourned, losing my grandmother in November. We met new challenges and got used to new schedules.

We all make choices as to how to spend our limited time, and often, these choices speak most truly of ourselves. The activities, tasks, and events we invest ourselves in and return to, day after day…this is where the rubber meets the road. I couldn’t possibly sum up an entire year of events and activities here, and I won’t try. Instead, I offer this list of programs and projects I, or someone in my family, was proud to be part of, in small or large ways, in 2012.

MacLaughlin leadership team. Creative Alliance. Travel Bloggers’ Expo. Passports with Purpose. Trekaroo Canada launch. Medford Parks and Rec. OutdoorsNW. Griffin Creek Elementary School talent show. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Middle school band. Best Family Travel Experts. BlogHer Voice of the Year. Club 456. Practical Travel Gear. Rogue Valley Timbers. Early Reading Intervention. Expedia travel. EpicMoms. McLaughlin football. Mount Ashland Racing Association. StoryBleed. Writing group. Travel Media Showcase.

In the comments, or on Facebook, or by separate email (I’m not picky), I’d love to hear what events and projects mattered to you in 2012: where you spent your time, what made you proud.

I look forward to hearing from you, and happy holidays!

6 thoughts on “An open holiday letter

  1. I love your pictures, and I especially love that you spend so much time being active. I must get myself ready to do that as my kids get old enough to do so. In the meantime, I’d love for you to post how you juggle extracurriculars with family outings like you’re showing here. How do you plan? Do you do it once a month, twice a month? Please tell me you have some way to make it happen methodically, and it doesn’t just happen by “magic”! 🙂

    • You definitely have to plan to make time for family activities and trips, or life will rush on and they won’t happen. We have to defend our time often, especially as the kids get older and have so many sports and other commitments. It helps that travel is part of my job, so I can justify it more easily, but we do make some hard choices and miss things occasionally (like the start of soccer pre-season, or a final tournament, etc). I don’t schedule these events systematically (ie, once a month), but rather as opportunities arise. We dedicate all school breaks to travel, and spend all of June and July traveling (home in time for August sports to start). For families who pursue activities closer to home, a monthly or weekly schedule might work really well.

  2. First of all, like you, I am having a hard time getting into sending paper holiday cards this year.

    Secondly, although your bank account may not have grown in the way you would have liked this year, it sounds like you’ve made some very valuable deposits into the “experience bank” for both yourself and your children. In my opinion, that’s worth an awful lot.
    Happy holidays to you and your family!

  3. Amy,
    Ok… So, I found your Christmas letter! In your true style, the photos, the letter and your voice, always tie together in a beautiful way.

    It’s hard to sum up a year and I think in part, it’s why I never write a Christmas letter. I try to sum up the year in a picture or group of them.
    This year, our suit picture was so appropriate… We all worked this year but, not just in the standard sense of the word. We worked at living up to our careers, our titles, our responsibilities and our goals for ourselves.
    We worked to make space for the things that stand out and rise above the noise. We worked at making memories (although sometimes you forget that in the noise of the packing, the planning, the catch up and the traveling…)

    We worked. We planned, We visited. In words… Whistler. Florida. Arizona. Germany. Mexico. Wake boarding. Cookie Baking. Playdate’s. Preschool. Music class. Birthdays. Gymnastics. Fireworks. Slumber parties. The fair.

    Never enough time. Always working to balance the pursuit of life with the weight of it. Making moments matter. Capturing moments through a photo. A hug. A look.

    We worked. We wished. We loved. Love you cousin. You are 1 in a million. Grandma would have loved this letter. She was so proud of you.

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