2011 was another in the series of incrementally shorter and faster years here at the Boyack house. You remember when we were kids, and a parent would tell us about something that would happen next year? It seemed so impossibly far into the future that it was as if we were being told it will NEVER happen! Time didn’t exist, or it was measured so sparingly into our lives that past and future simply fables from another universe visited only by adults.
Well, I live in the inverse of that reality today. These days as I ponder the events coming over the next few years I feel like I’m in a B-movie runaway train hurtling down the tracks through all of life’s big adventures without any opportunity to prepare for the bumps or savor the taste of accomplishment before the next cliff-dangling stretch approaches.
Hyperbole, of course. And even if it were meant literally, I’ll confess that I try to pause while running atop the cars (chasing the bad guys away) to take in the beautiful scenery – the sunlit meadows of children playing; the dignified mountain majesty of the well-lived lives that surround me; the bubbling streams of life and personality passing from generation to generation.
So this letter is one of those pausing moments – a chance to smell the fall, mountain air and give thanks. And in those moments, I quickly count myself blessed – far beyond anything I deserve.
On the one hand, I am middle-aged, balding and overweight. What I can do for myself I do very slowly - I am often lazy and frequently confused; I am impatient and inconsiderate, distracted and diluted. And yet . . .
In spite of myself, I have been blessed with the most amazing family, with treasured friends, with peace and with security. Those gifts I attribute singly to the goodness of God, and I love Him . . . for He first loved me. As I approach yet another holiday season, I give thanks for His kindness and the joys of life that I find in family and friends.
Lilly’s Baptism. Lilly reached the ripe old age of 8 this year, and was baptized in May. Both sets of grandparents were able to come and that helped make it a very special family day. Having so many family and friends around was a special treat for Lilly and all of us. Lilly is the caboose, and growing up too, too fast. She is already old enough to occasionally revert to her childhood; twisting into the seat of the shopping cart or high chair; sitting in my lap when I’m surfing politics working at the computer.
The Wedding. Kimber and Ray were married in the Portland Temple March 18, to the shock and surprise of . . . absolutely no one. This day was sacred, and happy, and fun, with family and friends coming from near and far to make the celebration something really special. Chad and his friends played some great music; Hannah decorated wedding cupcakes – hand-made candy flowers on each one; We ran a slide show of childhood photos; We sang happy birthday to my dad – it was his 80th! My favorite moment was when Wendy read a story Kimber wrote at age 7 . . . in which she is a princess, saved from a ghost . . . by none other than Raymond. If ever anyone’s childhood romantic fantasy came true, Kimber’s did. I wonder who would be the frightening adversary . . . wait – it couldn’t be . . . I’m more of a bog monster than a ghost.
I’m sure I speak for many fathers-of-the-bride when I say that this day was as terrifying as it was beautiful. I have been her protector since the day she came so tiny and tentatively into this world. Having a daughter leave home can’t be too different than watching her jump out of an airplane . . . the time for preparation is over. Did I say everything I should have said? What if . . . ? I wonder . . . ? Sigh.
But gladly, whenever I need to feel protective, she and Ray are less than a mile away. And more importantly, she has a much better protector in Ray than I ever was. Now I’m trying to pick up some pointers. Ray has a lot more to offer than just long arms!
Sandcastle Camping. The Jessops are serious competitors in the sandcastle competition at Seaside. McKay, Chad and Hannah were participants on their team. We camped at Nahelem Bay with our new (to us) pop-up trailer. We stayed true to our timeless tradition of performing mechanical repairs on the vehicle while on vacation. The camp host lent me some tools.
Staying dry on the Oregon Coast in June is a tricky proposition, but we did manage to have three nice camping days before getting soaked on the morning of the competition. While the kids were over at the beach trying to form delicate sand shapes with shivering hands, Wendy, Kimber and I were trying to get the trailer to “pop” down. We went up and down, up and down, forever, but it wouldn’t latch. I was nothing if not persistent, and we got it figured out and got to the competition just after it ended and the participants all went running for cover.
Visits to Gma’s house. We got up to Bend to visit Grandma and Grandpa Mabee for a few days in July. This is where Chad and Grandma composed the now famous ballad, “Jack Is A Very Good Dog,” and the effect of the biochemical processes of canine digestion on German athletic socks was finally set to music.
Visit to Idaho. McKay, Chad and I went out to Meridian for MacRorie Hewitt’s mission farewell and had a wonderful but short visit.
EFY, Trek, Girls Camp. Chad and McKay went up to Forest Grove to attend EFY. McKay was the Queen of meeting new friends. Chad participated in the talent show. This year Hannah and McKay went on the church youth trek, where they dressed up like pioneers and pushed handcarts along dirt roads in the forest for 3 days. Hannah hurt her foot and limped all the way home. The girls also attended girls camp.
They Sing! They Dance! They Paint! Last year at this time, Central High School and the community were presenting “Ebenezer” on the new stage at the school. Wendy had been helping with the technical side of the school’s productions for years, but now, with the new theater, she has become the resident expert of the extensive technical systems. Most of us helped on Ebenezer, and since then, working on a show at the high school seems to have become our default family activity. Whether it’s on-stage or off, you’re going to find a Boyack at nearly every single event at the high school auditorium these days. Running the light board or sound or spotlight, or setting up the concert shell or painting a set, or singing in a choir concert or playing a role on stage.
In the last 12 months Wendy has designed the amazing Messina Farmhouse (Much Ado about Nothing) and Mushnick Flower Shop (Little Shop of Horrors), along with Audrey Hepburn’s basement apartment (Wait Until Dark), which, despite the famous name, will never get rented out again. We tore it down after JennieLinn Jessop was nearly murdered four nights in a row. Wendy was the assistant director in the Pentacle (community) Theater production of Brigadoon, and the director for the CHS production of Wait until Dark. Hannah had a chorus part in Brigadoon and McKay was a rockin’ Doo-Wap girl in Little Shop of Horrors. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it (too much already), but MY KIDS CAN SING!
This month we had the dance recital, and also had our hands in the “Night in Bethlehem” Christmas Nativity. This is a live nativity out in Salem that has baby Jesus, Mary & Joseph, and the Wise Guys, along with a camel, Old Testament prophets, singing livestock and assorted angels. Wendy’s job is lighting, and I am her lovely assistant.
Now we are on to our next visually stunning project… the set for Cinderella in which Hannah also plays a mouse/horse to be performed in February.
The County unFair. Chad accompanied Hannah with his arrangement of Jar of Hearts at the Polk county Fair. McKay performed a humorous song called Joey is a Punk Rocker. They were fantastic! Unfortunately, all the top prizes went to some people outside our county, despite making the top 10. They were winners to us!
“Miss Lil” has had a busy year. She got to spend a week at Grandma Mabee’s with her Cousin Kylie and her sisters. She even got to visit Crater Lake – something I haven’t done yet. She had a week-long visit from her friend Leah. Lilly doesn’t stop singing or dancing. She loves to plan Family Home Evening, Activity Days, Tap class, and playing with her friends. She was a little distressed with the news that she would be an Aunt before she turned 9. She has gotten used to the idea. She felt the baby kick the other day and is now looking forward to being the chief babysitter.
Hannah is growing into quite the young lady. Year in brief: Less cake decorating, more singing. Hannah continues to develop amazing talents. She sang a solo at her Jr. High school concert last spring which brought down the house. I never tired of hearing her sing it . . . until that song became popular on the radio, at which time we had all had enough. She has also been learning technical theater from her mom and is considering pursuing musical theater in her (still far off) college education. She is persistent in studying piano . . .
Chad played rugby, football, and the ukulele this year. He and I had three outings to watch the OSU Beavers get beat, but the beavers actually pulled off a win once – you never can tell. My memories of Chad this year include midnight serenades, learning to drive stick shift, big hair, late night homework, “the gallon challenge”, and the McDank. Chad is becoming extremely quick with one-liners, and regularly makes me laugh. If he had written this letter, you would be laughing right now. There’s always next year!
McKay started the year as a Doo-Wap girl, and ends the year as a Jamba Juice girl. She sang in choirs and concerts for the last time. She has completed her high school/home school education and her GED. She had one of the highest scores ever to go through the program. She’s working for a few more months before she begins classes at the Oregon School of Massage. She went to her last year of girls’ camp. She worked over the summer as a sound tech for the City of Independence. She is the favorite “family taxi driver” and saves her mom countless hours!
Kimber and Ray
K & R Honeymooned on the ski slopes in Idaho back in March. Kimber has continued teaching at the Dance & Music Studio until December at which time she gave notice (she is planning on beginning her career as a stay-at-home mom), and Ray now works for an electronics assembler in Corvallis. School is on hold at the moment as they prepare for their bouncing baby boy, coming in February! Thankfully, they live around the corner so we can still spoil them.
Wendy is the brains of the operation, on stage as well as at home. In addition to all, Wendy still teaches Seminary… teaches home school… is a vocal coach… writes a blog… works in the garden… and has started working out at Curves again. She also has become the unwilling leader of a pack of dogs. All the dogs in the house follow her around… even to the bathroom. She hates it but I think it’s cute. She works circles around most of us and still has a smile on her face… most days. It has also been determined that Wendy is now responsible for buying all cars in the future. You should see the cute little race car she lets me drive.
And as for me . . . What a year!
This has to be one of the most unusual years I have ever had. This was my first full year at my new job. I’m enjoying my job, my chickens, and mowing the lawn. I cleaned “my side” of the garage this year.
By courage or witlessness, I found myself the chief petitioner of a recall campaign for a school board member. This is strictly small-town politics, but was plenty of drama for me. I helped a small group of people make things uncomfortable for the school district leadership, and in the process faced some slings and arrows myself. As reward for my heroism – or punishment for my crimes – I am now a member of the school board, replacing the member that was recalled. We were the Rebel Alliance, but now I have gone to the Dark Side.
So there you have it – the traditional update of the crazy life at the Boyack house. My punctuality (funny word to say about me) has altogether failed when it comes to the annual Christmas letter. It may be better to keep up by following us on Facebook, texting, blogs, or phone calls. But we can’t break with tradition, can we?
We love you all and hope to do better at keeping in touch. Mostly, we love the reason to celebrate this Christmas season: the Savior, Jesus Christ. He lives! He is the way!