The best Christmas letter looks at the cup half-full instead of focusing on what may be lacking in our lives and in our society. This year my tea leaves point toward something besides hockey! Boy Scouts truly emphasizes a virtuous life with its 12-point Scout Law and doing your duty to God and neighbor daily. The advancement rituals mark out a boy's trail toward maturity and manhood in a meaningful way. So with a nod to Baden-Powell's 100 years of success, I am borrowing the Scout framework here:
Tenderfoot rank—The twins became teenagers this spring and wanted more adventure (and separate cell phones). I suggested a paper route and violin students to help their cash flow, but they took Reid's advice and finally joined Scouts, too. They are quite serious and have progressed to Star rank already, which usually takes 2-3 years! We have acquired more cots, sleeping pads, mosquito nets, backpacks, hiking boots, camel-back water pouches, and knives (don't get me started). They eagerly endured a 2nd week of sweltering heat at Camp Geiger to earn more merit badges. Ben is currently the patrol leader, and he wants to plan *additional* campouts?! I am warming up to the idea after a successful family venture to Wallace State Park. “Silent Night.”
Second Class rank—David quipped that his parents are now over the hill: "Most people live to be 90, so 45 is half-way--and you are 46 which is already going downhill!" Hmm. “Jolly Old St. Nicholas.”
First Class rank—Reid was sidelined after a concussion last November (lots of physical therapy might change his future career path) so we thought a referee job would be good exercise and safer situations—until his finger was broken by a flying puck. David and Ben were proud to also pass the ref-qualifying test. Unfortunately, now David uses his position at center to argue with the refs when they are lining up at the wrong face-off dot. “We Three Kings.”
Star rank—Megan "stars" in her own weekly radio show on campus and was elected VP of Member Development for her sorority after a year of being Song Leader: scheduling serenades, composing Homecoming songs, and teaching AGD music at meetings. She wanted to sing more than one song each week and discovered it put everyone in a better mood! College life is an in-your-face battle against the Culture of Death, appropriately named by Pope John Paul II (who was beatified this year). So we try to fortify her with Spiritual quotes, Skype chats, and Starbucks packets. “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.”
Life rank—Married life after 21 years is a balancing act. I like when we do things together as a whole family, and Dale likes when we do nothing all together as a whole family. Hmm. Communication is a priority amidst the changes and our children's busy lives. “What Child Is This?”
Eagle Scout rank—Reid had an awesome 5th summer at Camp Geiger advancing to Fire Builder in the Tribe of Mic-o-Say and doing the Eagle Dance for Mr. Sisco's retirement. Later, he and "Shotgun" backpacked with 9 others for 10 days at Philmont Scout Ranch (137,000 acres in New Mexico) and bought the famous belt buckle! In August, he raised $1,460 and organized 30 volunteers to build 180 feet of split-rail fencing in front of the new One-room Schoolhouse, plus a flag pole that will fly a 33-star flag from 1860. By October, he had written his Life Purpose paper and submitted all the correct forms along with earning 52 merit badges. We proudly hosted his Eagle ceremony and dinner at the Pony Express Museum to celebrate his becoming the 95th Eagle Scout in the history of his Troop. Since he was born in 1995 and had 95 guests at the party, this seems to be his lucky number. I had the most fun creating photo displays, and it prompted our quiet son to tell some tales for the first time—such as how he forgot a sleeping bag in Canada and slept in the bathroom to keep warm. Others may never see behind the scenes like a parent does, but when a 16-year-old writes his own speech and then improvises from his heart in front of relatives, mentors, and a US Congressman, then it reveals his true character. “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen.”
My closing prayer as you are following yonder star
is to discover an authentic peace in 2012.
"Guide us to Thy perfect Light"