Our 10th annual Christmas letter

Dustin, Susan, Heath, Colin, and Fiona in the main concourse at Grand Central Terminal, Manhattan, Sunday 15 December 2019.

NEW YORK ▪ DECEMBER 2019

Dear family and friends,

In August, Susan decided it was time to redo the caulking around our bathtub, starting with where the tub touches the tile on the wall around it. Of course, to put new caulk on Susan first had to take the old caulk off. When she did so, the bottom row of tiles fell off with it. So a recaulking project became a retiling project, which began with a demolition project.

Our tub and shower are still shrouded in plastic sheeting.

This is a metaphor for what 2019 has been like for us. Not only has the year involved considerable work on our apartment, but it also feels like a half-finished project. How is this year already coming to an end? Don’t we still have six months left in 2019?

Fiona is now 9 and in 4th grade. She is as addicted to reading as ever. She is also a big fan of Minecraft (a video game, in case you’re unfamiliar with it). Throughout the year she has been reading a series called Spy School. So she had a lot of fun when she got to go to a spy camp at the University of Utah while she, Susan, Colin, and Heath were visiting Susan’s parents in Salt Lake City over the summer. Fiona is a great big sister who enjoys playing with her brothers, even if they get on her nerves from time to time. She is also conscientious of people and the planet, and she is hard-working, curious, and kind. And she really hopes our next president will be a woman.

Colin turns 6 in January and is in kindergarten. He still loves trains—riding them, playing with them, drawing them. He is always designing a big project that he hopes to build on his next visit to Grammy and Papa’s (Susan’s parents) house. He says that the highlight of his year was going to a waterpark in Salt Lake City. He is observant and asks really good questions about the world around him. He is also gentle and kind to everyone, especially his sister and brother (most of the time). On a recent weekday when he and Fiona were home Dustin gave him a piece of chocolate while Fiona was in the other room. His first reaction: “What about one for Fiona?”

Heath is 4 and attends prekindergarten at a Jewish preschool a couple of blocks from where we live. He is the most mischievous of the children in our family and often gets the giggles right around bedtime. He loves going to school, where he has become best friends with a girl in his class, Novalee. They often draw pictures for each other, and when he comes home he frequently talks about her. (Novalee’s father confirms that she does the same.) Like his sister and brother, Heath is curious and loves learning new things. You can usually find him watching the latest episode of Dinosaur Train in the PBS Kids app, and he was thrilled to see the Dinosaur Train traveling exhibit a few weeks ago at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City.

While Susan, Fiona, Colin, and Heath were in Utah, Dustin decided to explore a part of North America he had seen very little of: the Pacific Northwest. His adventure took him to Washington, Alaska, and Oregon as well as British Columbia, Canada. Alaska and Oregon were his 48th and 49th states, the last ones he had never been to in the continental United States. He also visited his 41st, 42nd, and 43rd state capitols—in Juneau, Olympia, and Salem, respectively—and was very excited to ride trains and subways and streetcars and ferries to his heart’s content (well, almost—one can never ride enough of them, of course). He also loved seeing old friends and catching up with his stepsister and her two sons.

Susan says that, other than the things already mentioned, she can’t remember anything remarkable that happened over the past year. “Life is pretty great,” she says, “and I’m also really tired.” As is typical for us, Susan’s workshop is mostly a pile of unfinished projects that she hopes to finish someday. But she was really happy to be able to visit her parents over the summer and to take Fiona, Colin, and Heath to spend time with their grandparents. And being busy may make you tired, but it’s definitely better than having nothing to do.

Even though 2019 feels like an unfinished project, it has been a good year. We have been blessed with health and adventure and a lovely and safe, if often messy, home to come back to. Above all, we have been fortunate to count you among our loved ones. We hope that 2019 was as good to you as it was to us and that 2020 will be even better.

Merry Christmas
& Happy New Year

With our love,
Susan, Dustin, Fiona, Colin, & Heath

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