Saturday, December 12, 2020

Happy Holidays--and smell ya later 2020--from the Martins

(This was our Thanksgiving photo.)


What a year this has been! 

This may be the most redundant Happy Holidays letter that I will ever write. Because all of you have experienced some of the same highs and lows this year that I have. And we have all shared some common experiences in the last months that are not true most other years. But even with the trauma and difficulties of 2020, each of us found our way through these months with unique experiences.

Here are some of ours.

It has been almost 300 days since Lynda and I last worked in our office or saw our colleagues face-to-face. It has been almost 300 days since our children . . . (And how much longer can I accurately use that descriptor to capture who they are? Most likely it is already woefully out of date.) . . . had something of what normal days are supposed to be. And realistically, it may be another 200 days or so before we can truly resume what used to be our lives.

None of this was anticipated or expected. Now I feel incredibly self-conscious when I accidentally go outside without a mask. Now I wonder when we will stop wiping down our groceries as they come into the house. Now I strategize when we might actually be able to plan a vacation with confidence and not brace for the inevitable rescheduling or cancellation. Now I can only imagine going on a date with Lynda to see a movie and sit down in a restaurant. So many things have changed in 2020.

The important things are stable however.

All five of us--along with Lynd's mom, Cheri--are healthy and safe and secure. We've worked hard to keep it that way, and it has paid off. We miss what socialization we could have done or the places we should have gone in the last nine+ months. But we did it for a reason. We did it for each other and we did it for others beyond us.

Lynda and I are happy to be continuing in our jobs . . . ever changing though they are. The unknowns of our industry in a changing world. Especially when the schools across the country are so topsy turvy. But we are in positions to help affect those unknowns. And that is a good feeling. I can't truly speak for Lynda, who has experienced more organizational readjustments this year. But through all of that her value and work ethic continues to be appreciated. 

My work continues as well. Each week the team makes further progress toward our multi-faceted goals. I've learned a lot this year and continue to try to get better. I'm proud of what I and my department are doing. These are the things you hope for in a job--steady, predictable, fulfilling.

As for Sarah, Grace, and Hannah? They are taking on the unique challenges of 2020 in their own ways. And they are really succeeding in significant ways. 

Sarah finished her first half of junior year at Columbus College of Art and Design. She stayed on campus for much of the Fall Semester, sharing a four-room campus dorm suite with her good friend Josiah. Classes remain digital. She returned home for the last weeks of the semester to gain some social strength from the family during the pressure cooker of completing finals. That wrapped up this week and she has several weeks off to relax and work. 

Grace is halfway through her final year of high school. She was the drum major for the marching band this fall, which was almost the only reason that we left the house during COVID. I was proud of the safety precautions that the band staff embraced and enforced throughout the summer and the fall to keep the kids safe--stricter than they needed to be! And though it wasn't a full season and there were no competitions to enjoy, it was so much better than nothing at all. It would have been heartbreaking to lose that one last change for Grace to experience a band season with her friends. Right now she is waiting on college announcements and finishing up scholarship applications. Her life will be different in many ways by next fall--and so will ours. But she has earned what comes next. And I look forward to seeing her get there.

Hannah is working her way through 7th grade and we are all trying to figure out the best way to navigate the confusion of this school year. Some weeks she is home. Some weeks she is in school. Every day she is learning how to operate more independently and take on some more responsibility as she ages. These middle school years are a difficult time of figuring themselves out. And it is hard for Lynda and I to guide her while allowing space for self-understanding. COVID makes that even harder. She is stuck with us a lot of the time--and that is not always the best place for an almost 13-year-old to be. But simultaneously (and contradictorily) it is frequently the BEST, most important place for her to be. Each day presents its own challenges, successes, and frustrations. We really are building the car as it drives down the road.

I hope you are able to find some time to catch your breath in the weeks ahead. We look forward to taking some time off from the pressures of work. We won't be going home to see family and that is sad. But it is part of the 2020 experience. I hope we can take some moments to look at holiday lights and find some peace during this season. Our church worships will be virtual, but the meaning remains. 

The days are short and the nights can sometimes be cold. But I want to wrap up this difficult year by remembering the good things that did occur. I'm ready to move out of 2020 and I look forward to a better 2021.

Wishing you the same!

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