The Christmas Letter

As long as I have a hand to write with and a tongue to moisten the seal, I will try my darndest to send out real Christmas cards — the old-fashioned, tree-killing, carbon-producing kind.  I just like the feel of a card in your hands: it’s a physical connection between you and someone you haven’t seen in a long time.  I’d much rather meet you for lunch, of course, but we can’t always do that.  Hence the cards.  This year’s came from England. See how much I love you?

On to the wrap-up.  2011 began with snow on snow on snow: quite a lot, though not nearly as much as last year.  Snow is usually accompanied by snow days.  Cinnamon rolls optional. 

When things had thawed out a bit, we headed north for a brewery pilgrimage with some friends and family.  Here’s us with my parents on the beautiful, chilly Delaware beach:

However, I happen to prefer this photo as representative of my nearest and dearest:

Spring brought a new friend and beautiful colors to compliment the Little Red House:

We enjoyed a brief jaunt to Boston, where our dear friend Stephen was elevated to the priesthood and Rob made a new friend (no, I don’t mean the duck!)

And scarcely had we returned than we flew south for a whirlwind week in New Orleans, where we were treated to uncharacteristically fine weather and characteristically fine food and drink.  Matthew was definitely the star of this trip — he wheeled and dealed at the antiques market, doubled back in an ingenious move for a second batch of beignets at Cafe du Monde, and almost left his wife for a 50-year-old bartender.  

But in the end he stayed.  Why wouldn’t he?!

We enjoyed a quick weekend in the Carolinas, where Rob’s beautiful cousin was married: 

What’s that?  You don’t believe I was really in the American South?

Ham, peanuts and BB guns.  Yes, sir.  And the views across the fields were spectacular. 

As the summer began in earnest, I enjoyed writing weekly about the food from our CSA.  You can read these columns, as well as quite a few others, at Catonsville Patch.  

We also welcomed our brother Zach for an extended visit.  Zach presided over a series of dinners that started big (The Goat Meal) and ended bigger (a Georgian-style supra for 13 guests that lasted about six hours, with almost that many courses.)  In between, we steamed live crabs for the first time

Six hours is also the amount of time we waited in line for front-row spots when U2 played in Baltimore.  Totally worth it.

Once I had recovered from my swoon, we had a long visit with the West Coast, seeing the sights, visiting family and playing with friends.

And by “playing with friends” I mean we sat in our hotel room in beautiful Sonoma for embarrassingly long lengths of time, playing simultaneous games of “Words with Friends” on our iPhones.  Hey, it’s Apple Country. 

Somehow, we managed to harvest a few things from our sadly-neglected garden: I blame the beautiful raised beds my dad built for us, without which I think we would have only had weeds. 

More guests — human and feline — followed by a quick trip to Atlanta to claim our inheritance and gallavant with cousins. Cat games, long dinners and the best Elton John impersonator I’ve ever seen. 

Labor Day brought one last chance to enjoy the sun — this time at beautiful Lake Eufala in Oklahoma.  Our BFF’s hosted, assisted by a pack of semi-wild dogs that often outnumbered us

School began again, and we buckled down: business as usual for Rob, who’s working on some landscape projects as well as teaching architectural design, and one last semester of grad school plus high school for Emily, who is almost finished with her MAT and continues to teach English at a private Catholic school. We took a break in October to accompany the same wonderful family (and the same semi-wild dogs)  to Lewes in celebration of Jamie’s 30th birthday.  Long walks on the beach, light sightseeing and an incredible late-night bonfire: 

The fall wound down with a few great concerts and a day trip to Bear Run, Pennsylvania, where Rob took his students to see some architecture and Emily tagged along for the scenery.

And we saved the last month of the year to tackle two daunting projects: a new kitchen and a new member of the family.  This is Mishka, the stray who whined and chewed her way into our hearts.


Kitchen photos will have to follow in a week or so.  And now, back to Christmas preparations: wrapping, decorating and practicing music.  For the first time I can remember, we’re celebrating Christmas on Christmas this year: church in the morning before returning home for breakfast, presents and a day of family traditions.

How we wish you could be here with us — and you are, in our thoughts and prayers.

Love, Rob and Emily