Here is my letter to friends and family this Christmas. You will find it somewhat sillier than my average post. Blame it on another side of my phlegmatic temperament.
Dear Friends and Family,
I have discovered the secret to staying young: marry someone older than yourself. No matter how old I get, I will always be the younger spouse. Poor Dan! He turned 50 this year, while I am STILL IN MY 40s!
I learned ten years ago not to give Dan surprise birthday parties. That was before I started studying the temperaments. Now I know that melancholics like him would rather hide than be the center of attention (or the focus of a Christmas letter). Phlegmatics like myself, on the other hand, love to be celebrated. Please remember that two years from now.
Speaking of temperaments, I am just finishing writing A Spiritual Growth Plan for Your Phlegmatic Child. In May I published a volume for parents of cholerics. I plan to take a little break from writing books to do some other things, but then hope to write about sanguines and melancholics too. At Dan’s suggestion I also published a short book called Is Centering Prayer Catholic? in August.
Writing books for parents based partly on experience makes me feel—never mind.
D is now a teenager. But, hey, friends and colleagues my age are grandparents. (They were all child brides.) No one is in high school—yet. I keep forgetting that M (11) can attend youth group events with D, because 6th grade is considered junior high. I’ll probably remember by the time he graduates.
C (9) loves to paint. He wants to be like Fra Angelico. Perhaps he could immortalize me in fresco. J (4) keeps me young with hugs and kisses. He is in his last year of preschool. We have had someone below school age continually since 2002. I will miss those years. But it’s a joy to see his love of learning blossom. He practices printing his letters by “writing books.” His stories have lots of L’s and O’s. I don’t know where he gets his ideas, LOL.
In September, after three years of packing and planning, my parents moved to senior housing in Bloomington. We helped with moving day. My sister flew out from Maryland to direct the movers. C was the doorman. I helped Mom at the new place, and Dan, D, and M contributed muscle. We’re beginning to reap the benefits of having all boys.
But, oh, the food they eat! By the age of reason they have each had a bigger appetite than I do. And none has even had his growth spurt yet.
With the help of the boys and balmy weather Dan finished building terraces for our front hill in the fall. No grass grew there formally, but somehow weeds always survived. I’m hoping flowers and ferns thrive there soon.
The calendar year draws near its end. A rain/snow mix is falling. The day is grey as middle age. But I’ve made mascarpone for our Christmas trifle and the doorbell just announced a package’s arrival. The Sacred Babe is coming. Eternity in our midst. Heaven and earth have kissed. (Good thing I write prose.) Alleluia!
with love from Dan and the boys
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