Editor's Note: Every year my family writes a Xmas letter. Here's this year's:
Hi everybody! A hearty “Season’s Greetings!” from the Miller Shearer family. Like every year, with neighborly spirits and full hearts, we like to update our friends and family on what we got up to this year in our Christmas letter. And, as per usual, we do it in a sincere, kindly manner that is inoffensive to anyone and definitely not a function of us trying to “lay low.” Ha ha. That would be ridiculous. It’s not like any of us are on a watchlist or socialists or anything and worried about the fascist we have for a President. Nope. This is totally normal for us.
So, Merry Christmas to you all. What a year it’s been! Absolutely brimming with love and joy. Although, before we share our many blessings, we’d be remiss not to mention that we have mourned the many celebrities who have left this earth in 2016. In particular, Elie Wiesel, Muhammad Ali, and Phife Dawg saddened us. Although to then mention that the many shootings of black men and women this year by police proves that those celebrities’ legacies need to be continued and that the fights they fought aren’t over would be controversial and possibly dangerous, so we won’t say that. Nope, we’re just gonna stick with “saddened.”
Maybe it’d be prudent to focus on other things that happened this year, related to just us. Like how, Tobin and Zach built a brick patio in our backyard in Missoula, Montana. That was cool, and there aren’t watchlists of people who build patios, are there? Great. Also, we have two new additions to the household this year: Hocus and Pocus who are sister kitties. They’re very adorable and everyone would think so regardless of their politics . . . I hope.
Because there’s so much good stuff to tell, here’s each member of the family writing about their year in the least incriminating, most sincere way possible.
Mom: Hello everyone. Here are things about my life from the past year. I passed a milestone at my job around September. I’ve worked there for 7 years now—which is the longest time I’ve worked anywhere. I keep looking at the classifieds though, just to see what’s out there. (Ha ha just kidding Liz!) When in between going to work, I took trips to San Antonio with Tobin, Chicago with Zach to see Dylan, Iowa by myself for Shetler family reunion, and Pennsylvania for niece Alma’s wedding. One more trip to PA for Christmas will round out the year. And because this is Christmas, and it has traditionally been my role to say something, um, not sarcastic, I will quote Steve Maraboli from Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience. “Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.” (Zach, too political??)
Dad: As I Iook back over the last year, the most significant thing about it was not that I finally finished a new book on the Fresh Air program (Two Weeks Every Summer: Fresh Air Children and the Problem of Race in America due out in April from Cornell Press—yeah!) after about a decade of research on the subject, not that I had the gift of an eight-month sabbatical, not that I got invited to preach in a Mennonite church about racism for the first time in twenty years, and definitely not that—as Zach infers above—I got put on an academic watch-list of dangerous professors. No, the most significant thing about the past year was that I took a spiritual retreat in January for five days in a snow-covered cabin in the woods in Montana. During that time, I prayed the hours of the office around the clock. It taught me two important things: 1) that I never want to be a monk because—among other things—it would require getting up several times in the middle of the night to pray the hours and, dang, but that was hard; and 2) that I love my work and want to continue doing exactly what I am doing now for as long as I can. Of course, getting to spend time with Cheryl in San Antonio, working out with Zach in the gym, and getting to hear Dylan’s new history podcast were also pretty cool, but having a renewed sense of purpose and peace in doing so was a great gift.
Dylan: 2016 has been a crazy, unpredictable, politically-charged year. “But Dylan,” you’re asking yourself, “what do you mean? 2016 seemed pretty normal to me! I can’t think of one crazy, unpredictable politically charged event that happened in 2016.” Well let me provide the voice in your head with some evidence. For example, I now enjoy okra, something that was verboten as recently as 2015. I’ve also been listening to a lot more country music. I’m still calling it “roots rock” but who are we kidding, it’s country music. Both of these things are crazy, unpredictable, politically charged events that happened in 2016. And that’s it! The rest of the year was normal and v v chill. Unlike my blessed father I won’t humble-brag my way through a list of my accomplishments, just straight brag-brag my way through them. I graduated from DePaul in June with my Master’s in History. I also beat Witcher 3, a video game. These are the two things I did this year. I also run a website that mostly publishes articles about how the Beatles are Trash but also sometimes important things too.
Zach: Here’s the first 9 months of my year in one sentence: I lived in my parents’ basement and delivered food for a start-up app company and performed some stand-up comedy and occasionally traveled to visit friends in cool places and then I got surgery on my hand. Or in other words, I was a millennial. Pretty boring stuff, to be honest. Oh, I also did Crossfit for a lot of that, but due to previous statements of mine and a dislike for the taste of crow, I won’t be saying anything else on that matter. After the first nine months, I finally had enough money saved up to move out of my parent’s place and head to Chicago, IL. Currently, I work nights at an International Hostel downtown, which has its good parts and its bad parts, but I’m enjoying it for the most part. I’m also taking improv comedy lessons, teaching myself how to code, and sleeping a lot. I also definitely did not sign up for a socialist organization after the presidential election.
Well, that’s that, folks. Another successful Miller Shearer Christmas Letter. Please notice that we are using the word “Christmas.” Know that we are not in any way affiliated with a so called “War on Christmas.” We aren’t using “Happy Holidays” or other inclusive language that would allow our non-Christian brothers and sisters to feel loved during the holiday season. We would never have “HAPPY HOLIDAYS” in our xmas letter. We aren’t heathens.
May you have a joyous year ahead of you. Please don’t report us.