Marilyn House is the wife of Colonel (retired) John House of Midland, GA. She is a native of Columbus.
I have always loved sending and receiving mail, especially cards during the holiday season. My Christmas card list grew longer with each year my husband John served in the Army. I spent more time each December writing personal notes to all my friends. Now I write a letter, chock full of the wild and wacky antics that happen at our house. Each year we receive many letters from friends, updating us on the families that we knew in one of the twenty places we lived from ROTC at Auburn to retiring in Columbus. I love it when a picture is included and always send one from us. Many people that we never get to see anymore have watched my children grow up through our yearly missive.
These letters come in many forms: as a letter to friends, in Power Point format with bullets, like a small newspaper with embedded photos, e-mails, and pictures. Some are funny, then there’s the military style with factual lists of events.
We even received a recycled letter. That one was a copy of the previous letter with pen and ink strikeovers to show the children were now a year older, “still” doing the same activities, and life was basically the same.
He said he saved trees by recycling but since he mailed out copies of an old letter, I think maybe he doesn’t understand what that means.
Our letter is not typical. In trying to make it funny and entertaining, we chronicle the strange and odd events that only children can inflict into your life.
In my first official Christmas letter, I mentioned that Shannon was in the fifth grade and she had already outgrown my shoes.
John “surprised” me with breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day that year and I awoke to the smoke alarm blaring.
Second grader Amanda, who had been coached to jump out of her window if the alarm ever went off, and thankfully failed to follow those instructions because it was a fifteen foot drop to the driveway.
Twins Mary and Carole have known from birth that their life will be exposed to any and all who know us.
Like when they were in kindergarten and their teacher came to my house to tell me they believed that they were Martian princesses. I explained that they actually were telling the truth because John was the King of Mars and I was the Green Queen.
I think they all cringe each year when I tell them a new letter is ready for mailing. I try to keep the news fair and balanced for each family member. I even share stories about myself sometimes. Everyone has a chance to be embarrassed.
People who serve in any branch of military service learn quickly that we often stand in as family for each other when our real kinfolks cannot be with us.
Often we are the ones who share holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries. During this holiday season, I encourage you to get in touch with a friend who would appreciate receiving a letter from you.
To remember all the activities during the year, I start each January with a clean sheet of paper on the side of the refrigerator with the year noted on the top. Everyone can add comments to the list throughout the year to aid in translating a few words into the real story.
I encourage you to try your hand at a Christmas letter next year.
It is a wonderful way for years to come to share a little history with your family.