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Christmas letters and New Year’s resolutions

Christmas letters and New Year’s resolutions

By: By Lisa Smartt

I have a New Year’s resolution. I’m going to do exceptional things in 2008. Like a lot of you, we receive annual Christmas letters from friends and family who live all over the United States. My, my, my. Some of these friends have evidently lived incredibly impressive lives in 2007 or else they hired a ghost writer to document their fictional Utopia onto Christmas stationery. I love receiving pictures of the families or the children. I love hearing how much the kids have grown. I can even enjoy a few stories about how little Paula played Peter Pan in the school play even though a second grader had never gotten the starring role before. That’s all perfectly acceptable. But I have to admit that a few of our family and friends cross the line.
It always starts with news about the kids. “Johnny got accepted into Harvard Law School this year and then toured with us in Europe. He received a standing ovation when he played a piano concerto at one of the beautiful cathedrals in Edinburgh. Alexis entered high school and made straight A’s for the ninth year in a row. She has stayed busy with her ballet performances and her travel with the all-star soccer team. In the spring she wrote a paper called ‘My Work With Orphaned Children.’ It won first place in the National Youth Writing Competition. While receiving her award from Bill Gates in Washington, D. C., she met with the president, toured the Capitol and was chosen to star in a new music video with RCA. Bob and I cruised to Alaska in May, ‘summered’ with the kids in Europe, hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon in October and sky-dived from a 727 over the Australian Outback in November. Despite 14 weeks of much-needed vacation, Bob managed a promotion in his Fortune 500 Company. He’ll be heading up the corporate office come January.”
Whew! Some folks seem to be accomplishing a lot in just 365 days. Our family didn’t write a Christmas letter this year, but if we HAD, these would be the highlights: “Instead of a trip to Disney World, we took the boys to the Soybean Festival Parade in Martin. They received a bountiful amount of free candy and a good time was had by all. The candy that hadn’t been run over by fire trucks was used for trick-or-treaters in October. In lieu of a European vacation, we put a new roof on the house. Few things in life are more satisfying than moving the Pyrex bowls out from under the leaks in the living room ceiling. Therefore, the beautiful new roof has facilitated a lot more baking. We bought new mower blades in June, but still managed to spend the summer neglecting yard work. I lost weight. I gained weight. I lost weight again. I can’t remember if I’m bigger or smaller than the last time you saw me. But I’m sure I’m smaller and look 10 years younger. The boys make average grades and have decided they don’t like to write or do math or take responsibility for their actions. The dogs still jump on company. I killed the front porch plants (again). We have a guest room that doesn’t leak now, so come see us when you can! Merry Christmas to all!”
When it comes to 2008, I doubt any of the Smartts will star in a music video or travel to Europe. But that’s OK. We’re fortunate to live in a warm dry place with the ones we love. Happy New Year to all!
Editor’s note: Lisa Smartt’s column appears each Wednesday in the Friends and Neighbors section of The Messenger. Mrs. Smartt is the wife of Philip Smartt, the University of Tennessee at Martin parks and recreation and forestry professor, and is mother to two boys, Stephen and Jonathan. She is a freelance writer and speaker. Her book “The Smartt View: Life, Love, and Cluttered Closets” is available at The Messenger, the University of Tennessee at Martin bookstore or by mail for $10, plus $2 shipping. Send checks to Lisa Smartt, 300 Parrott Road, Dresden TN 38225. She can be reached by e-mail at
Published in The Messenger 1.2.08


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