Merry Christmas from the Johnsons’

Our family Christmas letter:

Being that it was over 2,000 years ago, I realize I’m stating the blatantly obvious when saying that much has changed in our world since the birth of Jesus.  It’s hard for me to gain true perspective on the enormity of change within one year of this life of ours, not to mention from 2,000 years prior to present-day.  The vast difference between then and now begs the question;  what if Jesus were born today?  How might people react and how would the news be shared?  

I imagine the wise men on a group chat discussing what gift each will bring to present to this small child.  I see hundreds standing before the creche, phones in hand, clamoring among one another to get the best picture.  Thousands of people’s opinions and thoughts on the announcement of his birth would be tweeted, texted and liked before he woke up enough to set eyes on his mother and father for the first time.  Like much else these days, I would guess sharing the news would overshadow the importance of the news itself.

The miracle hidden within this passage of time is the truth that remains forever constant in our world of change.  Jesus was born.  And with His birth came reason for the rest of us to live.  And with His death came reason for not one of us to fear our own.  Of course there is a lot that happens between those two major events.   There is joy, sadness, achievements, struggles, immense growth and change.  And through it all, we know this baby came into this world as one of us so he could relate, sympathize, empathize, walk beside us and carry us when needed.  There is such an element of peace within this one whole and perfect gift, and I love when our world slows down just enough to celebrate His birth.

As anyone with teenagers knows, the word “constant” is perhaps one of the last adjectives one might use to describe these interesting and fragile creatures.  Pant sizes change overnight, moods fluctuate more rapidly than our waistlines this time of year and by the time we parents have a grasp of current interests, they are on to the next bigger and better thing out there.  

TJ turned 14 in November and has officially surpassed me in height.  Just the other day he commented that it seems strange when he hugs me “now that he is bigger than me” (excuse me while I grab a tissue…).  I’m grateful to say his confidence continues to grow as well and, as turbulent and confusing as these teenage years can be, TJ is standing on solid ground and surrounds himself with a great group of friends with whom he shares many adventures.  He continues to bring music into our home with each new song he masters on his electric guitar and is now looking to learn some acoustic songs as well. With this school year already half over, thoughts are looming of high school to come next year, a driver’s permit in another year and a half and this world of independence expanding by the minute.  As I am forced to let go more and more, my prayers grow ever more fervent in asking the Lord to draw near.

While I may still have about an inch or so on Noah, his growth has been enormous this year.  He ventured on to middle school and is transitioning to this new and independent world with great success.  Aside from the social benefits of attending school, there is little else Noah appreciates about getting up at the crack of dawn and heading off to sit in a classroom all day.  Joe and I continue to wonder how soon we can pull him away from the drudgery of this more common path of education and plop him right into a tech firm where we know he will eventually end up.  He continues to spend hours on his computer mastering various graphic design programs and entertaining us all with his creations.  If he only had the same amount of patience and perseverance when it came time to pick up his room…

Mary started full-day Kindergarten this year and is absolutely thriving.  She is developing a firm understanding of many introductory concepts, is reading several “sight” words, knows how to spell and write her name and even brought her favorite book into class and read it to all her classmates.  We continue to go to speech therapy twice a week and she is making incredible strides with both her language and speech.  Just recently, a photographer at the center took pictures of her during one of her speech sessions and his comment captures her perfectly, “her face in EVERY shot is fierce determination.”  God has so beautifully lined up His angels to care for Mary and ensure the potential He blessed her with is fulfilled (and most likely, surpassed).  We are grateful beyond words.  

My life has changed significantly this year, as for the first time in fourteen years, my “hours” have been cut and I find myself wondering (anxiously) what God has planned next.  He says, “Be still” and I say, “for how long?” While I wait for word on my next assignment, I am having a lot of fun writing bi-weekly posts on my blog, “Joy in the Journey” and am also blessed to be a monthly contributor for catholicmom.com. I am so thankful for the interest of my readers and the thoughts and comments that are shared. Through it all, I pray my presence right where I am at is a constant my family continues to count on.

Joe has logged one of his busiest years yet.  Among his hours at the office, he was assistant coach for Noah’s soccer team, has been heavily involved in our homeowner’s association, serves on a technical review committee for our town and joined forces with me to serve on the Board for Bethany Christian Services, the adoption agency through which we were blessed with Mary-Rose.  Our greatest blessing on the workfront is his ability to work in the New Hampshire office three days a week.  Rather than spending two hours commuting to and from the office, he spends that time with us; priceless.

Just last week I came across some of the boys old “wish lists” for Christmas.  It was bittersweet to read through these lists of toys that marked each stage of their growth.  It’s true; much has changed.  And there is much this mother’s heart worries about as we travel further down this uncertain path to adulthood.  I admit there are moments when I want to make a u-turn and head back to the stage when the ‘Wiggles’ were cool and the most violent part of their video games involved Mario jumping on the heads of mushrooms and flattening them like pancakes.  

We are raising our children in a world that seems to grow more confusing by the day.  The enormity of social media leaves me feeling both fascinated and completely overwhelmed.  It’s true that if Jesus was born today, news of his birth would be spread instantly and the peace within the manger would have most likely been disrupted with thousands of people having been immediately informed of his presence.  In the end, whether the news of His birth is tweeted, shared on Facebook or simply spread among the words of the shepherds and wise men, the news is exciting, true and lasting;

                                          Jesus is born, Merry Christmas.

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One thought on “Merry Christmas from the Johnsons’

  1. I laughed and cried through your letter. You have such a beautiful way with words Nicole. You’ve described your family so perfectly. ❤️ Merry Christmas to you all!

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