Merry Christmas from the Seitz family!
The year is almost over and it’s been another eventful 365 days here in Des Moines, Iowa. We are gearing up for Christmas in all our usual Seitz ways but I have to admit, the Christmas letter didn’t flow easily for me like it usually does. It could be our hectic weeks of running four kids to and from activities or school events, or it could be that I just finished writing my first novel and I used up all my words in my brain, or some exhausting combination of both. But whatever the reason, when I sat down to write it, it didn’t come pouring out and what did eventually come wasn’t anything good and I didn’t enjoy a second of writing it and that made me sad. So, I scrapped it and then I waited for an idea to come and voila…duh, of course. I’ll gift you with my favorite word for Christmas.
There is a Greek word that I learned about ten years ago, makarioi, which means being blessed by a deep joy that comes from God that can’t be dimmed by life’s circumstances. I loved this word immediately so much because it makes perfect sense to me, it resonates with what I’ve known my whole life. In fact, I love the word so much I had it tattooed on my body, (if you’re being judgy right now because you don’t like tattoos, you’re not the boss of me and it’s not the point).
Like you, I’m sure, my life so far has been a winding journey of peaks and valleys, highs and lows and frustratingly endless situations that leaves me asking what in the actual heck am I supposed to be learning from this business and why did I have to experience that? But at the lowest of lows, when I’m weary and bone tired or doubtful and afraid, there has always been a flicker of hope and joy that is protected in the core of my being. It serves as a constant reminder to be patient in the chaos, the good is still there even when it’s hard to find. It will be well. It’s in my desire to keep the faith, to stay on my path even when it doesn’t make sense, and to seek out the light when it’s difficult to find my way. It’s what keeps me laughing even when my heart is heavy and hurting. It reassures me that even if it doesn’t come today or tomorrow or if it comes in a package I didn’t expect, in it will be something good that was worth the wait.
If my kids learn nothing at all from the way Scott and I are raising them, I hope it’s just this. Well, that plus the ability to drop a well-timed “You smell like beef and cheese, you don’t smell like Santa” or “Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?” in every day conversation because that is a skill that is no doubt going to take them places or at least make them popular at parties. But in all seriousness, I hope they understand, if there were no presents, no delicious food, no reindeer games or no DVD of Christmas Vacation, we would still have joy.
Maybe this year you have struggled to find your joy. I get it. The world is a dark place and every day there is reason to be angry, discouraged and weary. But makarioi means in spite of all this, there can be joy in the midst of it all. Every day I look around at the beauty and the bravery and the wonder in my city, in the world around me, in my home. I look for reasons to laugh and opportunities to hold my people close to me.
Here’s a few things that have reminded me this year that I have so much to be thankful for and that fill up my makarioi tank.
- My family traveled together for sixteen days this summer through seven states, hiked in the mountains, explored old cities, swam in the ocean, hunted for ghosts, laughed our heads off, yelled at each other, got so sunburned that our skins peeled off, stood in holy places, and soaked up every second of vacation. Seeing the country with our kids has been the greatest adventure ever.
- My kids made beautiful music all year. Guitar and showchoir, trumpet and trombone, piano and singing and percussion, music is being played in our house every day and it glorious. (Actually, trumpet is not glorious yet, but one day I am confident that it will be and if not, there are earplugs and the basement.)
- Scott has a great job that is steady yet challenging and pays the bills. It gives us the ability to travel and to pursue the things we think are most important. Personally, it allows me to be home with the kids and pursue a career as an author and I will be forever thankful for that.
- My kids’ teachers are some of the best people on the planet. They are smart and kind and they appreciate my kids for who they are. The opportunities my kids will have through their teachers and school will make them better people.
- In November when I was working like mad to finish my book, Cameron would often pull out the old lap top and set it up next to mine at the dining room table so he could work on his story while I worked on mine. Every so often he would take out his earbud and lean over and say, “I have 526 words. How many do you have, Mom?” I would answer with “over 100,000” and he would smile and nod and go back to writing.
- Maggie and Scott are reading the Chronicles of Narnia together and seeing a dad snuggled up in bed reading with his eight-year-old daughter is a punch right in the feels. Plus they’re reading books that I adore and that is an extra added bonus.
- Jolie and Ella are taller than me and gaining on Scott. They take hard classes at school and can have in depth conversations with Scott and I about current events and history and philosophical discussions. Jolie talks about college and leaving home and they both hang out with friends and walk around town. They are becoming these real live people that are smart and strong and independent. These characteristics make it easier to look past the ridonk moodiness of the same two teenagers.
- Every single day, our dog Harper wakes up at the end of our bed and greets Scott and I as if she has been waiting all night to see us again. She does the same thing when the kids walk in the door after school and when Scott gets home from work and when the mailman comes and when the Roosevelt students walk past our house. Oh, the love!
- After 20 years, Scott still makes me laugh harder than anyone. That is the biggest reason I’m pretty sure we’ll still want to hang out with each other when our kids leave home. And the days when we’re not sure about it, we work harder at it.
- Our family is healthy. We are happy. We have what we need and then some. We have good friends and family that love us. Our life is full and has purpose.
These are a few of ours. I hope you can easily come up with plenty of your own and that you are filled with so much makarioi it makes you puke. We wish you the Merriest of Christmases, the Happiest of the Holidays and great big hope for the New Year.
Scott, Jamie, Jolie, Ella, Cameron, Maggie and Harper Seitz