Muddling Through With Style: Merry Christmas 2015

You may not realize that “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” has three sets of lyrics: the rejected original, the version that appeared in the old film Meet Me in St. Louis and what you so often hear on the radio today. Here are the first set, deemed too depressing:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
It may be your last
Next year we may all be living in the past
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Pop that champagne cork
Next year we may all be living in New York

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My reaction to depressing Christmas songs, as seen from a gutless European quad

 From there, the song moved to : “Have yourself/A merry little Christmas/Let your heart be light/Next year all our troubles will be out of sight….Someday soon, we all will be together/If the fates allow/Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow….” It was far more real than today’s version of “From now on our troubles will be out of sight….Through the years, we all will be together…..Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.”

I cannot, with this Christmas letter, give you a perfect recap of a perfect year. But neither will I depress you with reminders that it may be our last. I am more Judy Garland at the moment (except I don’t plan on my life ending in quite the same fashion as hers) than Michael Buble. I fully realize that Christmas away from family will never be the best it can be, and I empathize so much more fully with those who view this time of year as heart-breaking. It’s a bit like Joy and Sadness touching the control panels at the same time, adding much depth to my understanding of the holiest day of the year.

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Little Ben, waiting for his father to come, Ukraine, April 2015.

I cannot promise, like modern singers, that all of our troubles will be out of sight. In fact, I’m pretty darn sure we’re promised a lot more trouble in this life. But 2015 proved to be a pretty momentous year, bringing promises of beautiful muddling.

First up: the reason you are not reading this on a real piece of paper in a beautiful photo card, as per our tradition, is because I’ve been even busier than usual. If you know me, that’s saying something. I began graduate school in late August, earning my master’s degree in International Community Development. I’ve now finished my first semester and am so excited about everything I’m learning. When I graduate, I hope to someday work at one of my favorite nonprofit organizations, working on several initiatives in Orphan Justice and Family Preservation.

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My future…..or a Greek volcano, September 2015

Secondly, the no-card-no-show happened because a way bigger thing happened: in April, we decided to grow our family through international adoption. Our girl is six months younger than our middle son, has several disabilities and lives in an Eastern European orphanage. We just got back one week ago from visiting her, in fact. In another four months or so, we hope to return and pick her up, making her a Kupper for good. We cannot post her picture or reveal her name yet, but rest assured that she is the cutest spitfire you can imagine, full of spirit and life and spunk!

So next year, when we do send out our card…there will be four beauties beneath our tree!

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Well, if you count Celia, our beloved former exchange student, there will be 5! Madrid, May 2015

In the last two years, I’ve made 16 international trips; Nick has traversed even more. But the more we travel, the more we are reminded that home is the best place hands down. Currently, that home is in Europe. Who knows where 2016 will take us?

This is where 2015 took us:

887374_10152866885511481_8732503351019219563_oJack is now eight years old and in second grade, our growing shark scientist/author/artist/lawyer/spy/architect. Ecstasy is no further away than the nearest Pokemon card or Lego set. He writes letters to his grandpa, is set to resume his karate lessons in a few weeks and is thrilled with the idea of teaching his new sister English (we’ll see how long that lasts).

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Batting practice in England, May 2015

Jack is planning to be a vegetarian someday for moral reasons but loves bacon too much. Still, when asked what he would give to the world at school, his reply was classic, earth-loving Jack:

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Hold your breath! Oregon, August 2015

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Happy Independence Day 2015, Oregon

Jude, our middle child, is the chillest cucumber in the patch. At age five, he is starting to sound out words, but is far better at anything involving hand-eye coordination. So if you have a ball, Jude will be your best friend. His best friend is Kelton, a preschooler from Utah — unless you count his sister. He is funny, hammy, playing basketball, memorizing Bible verses at AWANA and has the prettiest eyelashes since Elvis. He would like a Hot Wheels dispenser in his room someday and makes the exact same face for photographs as his grandpa.

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I’ll take care of you, little sister. Oregon, July 2015

Jude is the best medicine, not only for his sense of humor but his innocence. Exhibit A: what Jude requested I read to him at the library.

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Cannon Beach, August 2015

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Dress Like Daddy Day at AWANA

Avinly may be petite, but only in body. To meet her is to be confounded that someone so small could be so loud. Yet with those two-year-old mega lungs also comes a goofy personality, a nurturer in training, a complete daddy’s girl and an absolute treasure. Give her a baby, a train or a piece of chocolate and she’s set for at least 10 minutes.

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With Grandma Candi, Oregon, August 2015

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Oregon Coast, July 2015

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England, October 2015

May your New Year be as fun as a wheelbarrow race….

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As breezy as a palm-tree-lined pool….

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As carefree as a summer swing session…

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Filled with tummy-shaking laughter with those whom you love the most…

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And as picturesque as a John Deere ride with your grandpa around the back 30.

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From our far-away home to yours, Merry Christmas. Muddle through with style.

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