2017 Family Christmas Letter

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Dear Family and Friends,

What?!? Wait!! It’s December already?? Where has the year gone? It seems like only yesterday I was typing out our annual Christmas letter. When I was a kid, time seemed to pass so slowly. It seemed I was always needing to be older to do what I wanted to do. Now, I wish I could put the breaks on and slow things down so I can savor what’s occurring in the moment, especially the time spent with family and friends. Still, in a way, that’s what this letter does and in it’s writing is the opportunity to sit back and reflect on the year. It’s almost a form of time travel because as I reflect on those events, for the briefest moment, I’m actually reliving them. Most of the time they make me smile and although there’re those moments we’d sometimes prefer to forget, they work together to make us who we are. So, here’s our family’s reflection on the year…

This year, Cindy and I continued to serve as Den Leaders for a group of Cub Scouts. So, this kept us all pretty busy with adventures throughout the year, like the Pinewood Derby, Good Knights, and the Rain Gutter Regatta. All their hard work culminated in advancement to Tiger rank. It was a fun year for the boys…and for us!

In addition to Scouting, baseball played a big part in our lives this year with Adam playing the regular Spring season and Fall Ball. We also spent some time with the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, formerly known as the Jacksonville Suns (a name change I wasn’t too happy about, but the boys really seemed to like, which I guess is the point of these whacky minor league team names). And in our off time, The boys and I were at the field working on skills. Alex wants to start playing again, but rather than just throw him into kid-pitch in the Spring, he and I are going to do some one-on-one work to get him ready to jump back in in the Fall. Ah, baseball. There’s no better sport!

In the past, my travel schedule didn’t leave the family a lot of time for extended vacation, so we would schedule several short breaks just to get away, often in conjunction with my work travel. This year we continued the short-break tradition, but also scheduled some extended time away in West Palm Beach, Key West, and enjoying a little off-shore boating. I’d like to point out that it wasn’t me working on this vacation, it was Cindy. And unsurprisingly, we also made several trips to Disney throughout the year, even celebrating our Thanksgiving meal at one of the parks.

Keeping with tradition, we had the opportunity to enjoy(?) another hurricane, as Irma plowed through Puerto Rico then up Florida’s west coast. It passed west of us, which meant we felt the strongest winds, but thankfully, by the time it passed it had slowed to a Cat 1 storm. Cindy’s stepdad, Junior, his wife, Linda, and her daughter and family evacuated from Sarasota for a “hurrication” with us. Linda’s daughter has a little girl named Lily and she and the boys play well together. I guess the hurricane worked out great for them! Fortunately, they all went home to minimal damage to everyone’s great relief.

Normally, Cindy’s dad, Tom, comes to Florida from the U.K. for a visit, but he was unable to make it this year because he had to have heart surgery. It was a little worrisome for a while, but in the end all turned out well. Cindy and her sisters tag-teamed helping him with his recovery. Cindy made the last trip over the pond and by this time, he was home and she was able to spend some quality time with her dad. They went for walks every day, to dinner once or twice, and enjoyed a beer or two! While Cindy was with her dad, the boys and I closed out the summer and started the new school year

The year also brought some tragic news as I lost a friend to suicide. I had known Tony since high school. He attended our wedding. Over the years, I’ve kept in contact with a few close friends from high school. We’re in-and-out of each others lives, as long-standing friendships have a tendency to do as members get wrapped-up at times in their own lives. My friends and I, and Tony’s sister, Karen, and her family are still searching for answers and each of us wishing he or she had done more to be there for Tony.

If Tony’s death has taught me anything it’s to be there for those close to you. Don’t take a single person for granted. Enjoy each and every moment you have the privilege of spending with the one’s you love and care about. Life is fleeting and no one should have to regret things he or she should’ve done. As you spend time with your family and friends this Christmas season, take a moment to just BE in the moment, and maybe whisper a quiet prayer of thanks to have them in your lives.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a hope the New Year brings you happiness and prosperity.

Love,

– Jody, Cindy, Alex, Adam, and Charlie (woof!)