Dear Santa: My Annual Open Christmas Letter

Dear Santa,

I can't believe it's been almost a year since the last Christmas.  How have you been in the meantime?  How is the missus?  I'd say you've been very busy this year with all the Star Wars merchandise that I've seen floating around.  Hopefully there are enough people still on the nice list to make use of them all.

So if you remember, last year we had to celebrate Chinese Christmas in February since we were out of town when the regular December Christmas celebration was happening.  This year, you can plan on a normal Christmas delivery to our home because we'll be staying home.  While I like the idea of spending the holidays with family, the reality of making that happen is significantly harder with three kids four and under.  I'm hoping for some quiet enjoyable time together this holiday season with just my wife and kids.  In fact, this is the first time I'll be taking off work during the holidays and not traveling, so I hope it is enjoyable as I am hoping it will be.

I have to admit, this past year was a bit of a doozy for my greater family as a whole.  2015 is not going down as one of my most favorite years.  It definitely didn't turn out to be anything like what we were promised in "Back to the Future."  Sure there are "hoverboards," but even those are causing more battery-exploding accidents than good.  This year my greater family has experienced multiple illnesses, including at least three ambulance rides and a number of hospital visits (some with multi-night stays).  We've seen hardship for our nieces an nephews.  We've seen unemployment and underemployment strike our family.  Overall, I'd say it was a net bad year.  If you zoom out, a level, there are a number of crises going on in the world that we all wish weren't there.

However, I don't want to dwell on the negative things going on.  Let me tell you about the blessings we have had.

First off, we were able to have a wonderful vacation this past summer in Destin, Florida.  We were happy to discover that place a few years ago and wanted to experience it again.  We were lucky to have my parents come out and stay with us.  Not only was it a fun time, but I was able to watch my children interact with their grandparents and reap the blessings of knowing them.  My parents are two of the greatest human beings I have ever had the pleasure to deal with and it is my hope that my children can grow up remembering them.

Secondly, my daughter Leah has been blessed to finally get into a pre-K class where she has had a wonderful teacher to help her along with some of her developmental problems.  The latest report was that she was doing great academically and might move out of the special education class and into the regular class.  It has been such a nice change to actually hear her communicate things to me, even if I can't clearly recognize all the words.  (Now, let's hope we can get potty-training down...)

Thirdly, my little Sean isn't so little anymore.  He's a cute, conniving little two-year-old with a pretty big heart.  He isn't shy about playing with anyone or going off to explore the world.  Unfortunately, that also translates into him not realizing the dangers that could face him.  I am constantly trying to make sure he doesn't kill himself or break something valuable, and that continually wears thin on me.  However, he can be pretty fun and he has such imagination.

Fourthly, my little Lucy Mae came to us miraculously about a month and a half ago.  We had been anticipating her arrival into our lives for quite some time.  However, when it got close to her delivery date, we discovered that she wasn't in the right position and floated between breach and transverse the last week.  Even after the doctor tried a painful procedure to try and get her into position, the little girl just wouldn't get to the right spot.  The only way we were going to get her out was through a c-section.  After lots of prayers by ourselves and our family, we went into the hospital and got all ready for the procedure to happen.  We said one last prayer before we were about to go into the operating room and put our fate in the hands of the Lord.  The doctor promised to do one last ultrasound before we went in, and we heard her exclaim, "Am I seeing this right?"  Lucy had moved head-down into the correct position, sometime right before.  We were all overwrought with emotions of gratitude as we learned we were going to have a normal delivery.  About twelve hours later, we were holding our little girl.  Although she isn't smiling at us yet, she has been such a wonderful blessing to have in our family.

Finally, I have been blessed with a wonderful wife who has a lot of faith in me.  She gives me much more credit than I deserve.  This past summer we left the kids with a friend for the weekend and took a trip to San Antonio to celebrate our birthdays.  It was one of the nicest trips I've been able to have.  You see, Sarah and I never really had much time get to be just "us" at the beginning of our marriage.  When we got married, we immediately focused on having kids.  Out of the five years we have been married, she has been pregnant half of the time.  With all that focus on family, it has made it much harder to learn to be a married couple.  So having just a little bit of time to focus on just us was such a wonderful experience.  I wish we had more opportunities to do just that.

So, as you see, Santa, I've already got pretty much all I want, and it's not even Christmas.  Sure, I'd love to build a new PC or live in a bigger place.  But I don't know if anything will ever compare to the blessings I've listed above.  I think this year I finally understood the real meaning of Christmas.  I was brought pretty low this year.  I'm sure I didn't handle everything with the right amount of patience and longsuffering.  I'm sure I made lots of mistakes.  However, I realized that there was a way to be forgiven of all my misdeeds, mistakes, and weaknesses.  We're celebrating that reason in a few days.  My Savior has come and I'm so grateful for His atonement.  I'm grateful that I can be made whole after I feel so empty.  I'm grateful that even through the darkness of this past year, I can still have a hope for a better existence.

So, Santa, go ahead and leave some stuff for the kids or whatever you've already got planned.  I'm sure we'll enjoy them.  Just know that I think we understand why you give presents.  I would be pretty generous too if I was celebrating the best news to reach humanity.


-Brad Reynolds

P.S. I forgot one more thing that I am grateful for: George Lucas didn't have anything to do with Star Wars VII.

P.P.S.  I'd really love a TARDIS if you have an extra one lying around...

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