Dear Friends, Family, and Secret Network of Ninjas and Spies,

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!



*A note on the photo. Getting a 2 year old to pose happily with Mom and Dad is an interesting, if not mesmerizing task, like how earthquake and police violence Fox news videos are mesmerizing. After contemplating this seriously for all of 20 seconds, I gave up on the concept of a family photo, and found some internet stand ins. 

Because this is our first year sending out a holiday letter, I googled "How to write a holiday letter" and received some good advice from Readers Digest, some of which I shall implement now:

"Tip A. Keep it short. Focus on 4 to 5 highlights (new job, babies, trips — but leave out the bragging), says John Llewellyn, associate professor of communication at Wake Forest University."

Highlight 1: Jobs

I have a new job! I am a project manager consultant. What is that? Basically, it means I get to organize & implement things for awesome people and have time in my life to have lots of fun again.
 


Me, posing as one of the statues at the Crane estate in Ipswich

Jon is still at Cabot Heritage in Salem, enjoying running all their technical projects and operations, and his brilliant application of all things technical will secure us a good place with our overlords, come the robot revolution.
 
 

 
Highlight 2: Babies
 
We are expecting a new (haha, had you there for a minute) niece to arrive at Kristy, Ronan & Aoife's house this December, and are very excited. Our own baby, Maddox, is more of a toddler these days - you can see that he is fluent in American English, but snubs the middle of the alphabet as pedestrian and overused. 
 
Mads has just started preschool at our local KinderCare, and is adapting to having a lot of other little kids to play with. He loves farms, cars and trains, but persists in this strange obsession with playing outdoors, much to Mom & Dad's chagrin. (There is no wifi in the woods.) We're looking forward to playing in the snow this year, with all of our family and friends who are brave enough to spend time with a kid who just learned A) throwing and B) what snowballs are. 

 

Highlight 3: Trips
 
Last weekend, we went to the zoo to see the cows (at least, that is the animal that Maddox most wanted to see once we got there). We also discovered some very cool rocks and sticks, right next to those silly mundane zebra things. 
 


Yesterday, we went to New Hampshire for Thanksgiving, and it was awesome.  I have a genuinely silly family, which is the best kind. To give you an idea of our conversation topics, we found Narnia in a cupboard behind the tupperware, linked Thomas the Tank Engine to Back to the Future and the Polar Express, and found out that there is a step by step guide to conducing an exorcism online. Maddox learned about football (apparently, Uncle Brian taught him to say the Dolphins suck) and how to run a mean shell game using red plastic cups and a purple matchbox car. I love my family. 

In a few weeks, we will travel to Ohio to visit the other side of our family, which is somewhat of a Christmas miracle, because air travel has been so expensive of late. Maddox is the only grandchild on that side, and revels in the love, attention, and the presence of people who like to go outside. Jon's sister Cassidy is getting married this summer, and his sister Tessa is zooming through law school, so there will be much to catch up on between snowball fights. 

"Tip B. Include the kids. Have young kids dip their thumbs in green acrylic paint and stamp on a corner. Add red dots and you’ve got a cute holly." 

That's a great idea, but this is an eletter, and as much as I love painting with Maddox (see exhibits A and B below) there is no way I'm letting green paint get anywhere near my MacBook Air. 



"Tip C. Try fancy fonts Coolarchive.com and Theholidayspot.com let you download free fonts and clip art to spruce up your letter."
 
I went to theholidayspot and downloaded DINOBOTS and BEAST WARS. Here is a sample of each. I hope we are all feeling more festive now.
 

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Festive Boxing Day and most of all, Happy Berchtoldstag!

Warm Wishes, - Jon, Leanne & Maddox Heller