The letter behind our Christmas letter

This is not your run-of-the-mill Christmas letter. Among some major milestones, we are sharing unsung moments we normally would keep to ourselves – the day-to-day stuff our lives are made of…

Once again this past year, Brian gave Paula a refresher on how to put air in her car tires. Even so, she still stops at the only fueling station in town, where the attendant fills tires. Doing so saves her the hassle of kneeling on hard concrete in her professional business attire with the air hose in one hand, the tire gauge in the other, while trying to read [with her first-ever pair of bifocals] the amount of air pressure stamped on the tire, which is impossible to decipher with black printing on black tires.

In March 2012, our lakefront finally dried out after hemming us in by flood water from June 2011 through November of 2011, leaving behind a path of destruction. From a distance, the rising water appeared surreal, yet benign. However, we learned to never underestimate the power of standing water, including this litany…

Our 100-feet long lakefront, including boat dock, trees, perennial flowers, bushes and once lush green lawn were destroyed. Brian spent the better part of the summer rebuilding the dock. We joined with our neighbors in hiring a contractor to restore the lake bank with a river rock break-wall, and then grate and reseed the lawn area. It wasn't long before Brian and our 15-year-old granddaughter, Gracie, repurposed sand from the sandbag levee to create an expansive beach area along the shore.

Now unmoored from an epic flood, we rejoice in this silver lining, which Brian calls "taking lemons and making lemonade."  In nearly 40 years of lake dwelling, our first-ever beach is giving us countless hours of entertainment watching boaters, wildlife, sunsets, and, yes, playing in the sand; although, Paula is still picking up litter left behind by inconsiderate boaters and ancient driftwood washed ashore by the high waters.

After a hot dry summer, when the temperature finally dropped below 100 in late September, Brian seized the day, acquired a building permit and started two of four new projects. He constructed a carport on the north side of the garage for his 1993 Honda Del Sol T-Top and nearly completed a deck on the high bank overlooking the lake. In spring 2013, he'll start work on a brick patio off the walk-out basement, above which he plans to build a three-season porch to replace the weathered sundeck and screen porch he constructed many years ago.

We'd be remiss by not mentioning that in the throes of Brian's weekend warrior-ness, Paula has reluctantly renewed her gopher's license. At any given time, she can be found going for slotted screwdrivers and Phillips screwdrivers, ratchet wrenches and plain wrenches, chalk lines and levels. And while she prides herself in knowing a little bit about tools, she often mistakes one for the other, increasing her gopher time exponentially.

As she approached her 60th birthday in November, Paula decided to grin and bear it. So, rather than belting out a primal scream or throwing a pity party, she encountered it gracefully by inviting friends and family over to eat cake and drink punch. Needless to say, her sweet tooth is still alive and well, as she has two new recipes to try in the New Year: gingerbread and eggnog tiramisu and cinnamon caramel swirl breakfast rolls. Yummy! Oh, and we mustn't forget that, for first time ever, the weather was so warm in December that Paula put up the outdoor Christmas decorations in Bermuda shorts and a t-shirt, which planted a permanent grin on her face.

This past year has been momentous in other ways, as well. We celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. I call it sainthood. Brian calls it love. Either way, we decided to celebrate this accomplishment for the rest of our lives. In September, Brian fulfilled a lifelong dream of going back to college for an art degree. Even though his classmates use iPads to complete their schoolwork, he is relying on a standard PC and good old fashioned pen and paper. He earned all A's in his first semester. Go, Brian!

After spending 32 years at Mercy Medical of his 40-year career in social work, he decided to retire on Dec. 21, 2012.  With three retirement parties and many, many well-wishes and expressions of gratitude from his coworkers and patients, Brian didn't expect the sea of emotions associated with letting go of a humble career of changing and, in some cases, saving lives. We are ever so proud of Brian of his dedication and diligence in sharing his gifts with others.

Glancing back with gratitude at 2012, we embrace the New Year with festive gladness over our innumerable joys: being grandparents to our three sweet and smart grandchildren and one on the way, for our three awesome children, for their incredible spouses and their richly blessed lives and for our heritage as Christians that promises, no matter what evil there is in the world, in the end, our divinely provident God will work out all things for the good. 

Here's wishing you all good – always.

2012 © Copyright Paula Damon.

A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her writing has won first-place in competitions of the National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women. In the 2009, 2010 and 2011 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contests, her columns have earned eight first-place awards. To contact Paula, email  boscodamon.paula@gmail, follow her blog at my-story-your-story@blogspot.com and find her on FaceBook.

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