Thursday, December 24, 2015

2015 Christmas Letter

Dear Friends and Family,
It seems like only a week ago that spring finally gave way to summer, letting us put on shorts and t-shirts for the first time after a winter of prolonged blistering cold.  And yet, here we are again, decorating the house for Christmas and preparing for the coming of another New Year.  2015 has felt very much like a year of keeping on, of incremental growth and measured accomplishment, but in collecting my notes for this letter, it’s become clear that this is only the way that it feels, that the truth has been both happier and more productive than my poor memories suggest.
It’s been a good year for me personally.  I took trips with my good friend and former Academy roommate Chris, a joint family camping trip to Gettysburg, a trip to see the Army football team scrimmage over the summer, and another to the Academy to watch Army lose a thrillingly close game to Wake Forest.  This was my first year as an Army Football season ticket holder, and if we didn’t make it to all of the games, I still thoroughly enjoyed having a regular excuse to return to my alma mater and “Rockbound Highland Home”.  I swam across Long Island Sound for St. Vincent’s Hospital in August with my friends Ben and George as part of Team “Y-Me”, earning third place in the our division and raising several thousand dollars for the hospital’s cancer support charity.  Sally and I took the kids to Maine in September, and this was, as ever, the absolute highlight of the year.  We also attended my West Point Class’s 20th reunion in October.  Finally, though it was greeted with little fanfare, I published the second Sneax and Elaina Emboo book in November, Sneakatara Boatman and the Crown of Pluto.  This ends the story arc I began writing for my girls back in December 2012 and feels like a significant accomplishment, if one that probably means more to me personally than to anyone else.  
Sally, meanwhile, has been busier than I have in every way.  This year saw her transform herself from sometimes art teacher and fitness instructor to full-time, serious fitness instructor, who is in high demand for a variety of fitness disciplines.  To say that this keeps her moving is the understatement of the year.  Not only does she teach barre, water aerobics, boot camp, and PLYOGA, she also coached the Milford YMCA’s Race4Chase kids’ triathlon program over the summer.  She shepherded more than thirty kids through their first triathlons, including a oversized handful of age group champions.  She also hosted her final art show in June, an event that gave her one-time students a chance to display and discuss their work publicly with their families and members of the community.  It’s been a challenging year for the Head Household, but my beautiful wife handles it with impressive aplomb.  She is the rock of our family.
Hannah started seventh grade this year, and though she missed the first week of school while we were in Maine, she nevertheless designed and executed a successful campaign to become Vice-President of Thurgood Marshall Middle School’s student body.  She continues to write and draw on a continual basis--she is perhaps the only person on Earth who likes to write more than I do--and with her sister Emma, she takes dance and gymnastics.  She told me just this morning that she is close to doing a back walkover, which is the key to her doing a back handspring.  This no doubt means that she’ll be vaulting like a monkey in due time.
Both girls did the Race4Chase, and Emma excelled.  She is that rare athlete who can both swim and run with equal efficiency, and watching her turn herself into a triathlete was one of the year’s great pleasures.  She made her onstage debut in the school’s production of Aladdin in May, playing a member of the Genie’s Entourage, and she has since become a fifth grader at Stratford Academy.  It’s hard to say what Emma’s future holds, but whatever it is, I have no doubt about it’s being amazing.
On Pemetic Mountain in Maine, Summer 2015.
On Great Cranberry in Maine, Summer 2015.
All of us in the Head House wish you a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years.  Stay safe and take care of each other, and with any luck, we’ll see you soon.
With Love,
Dan, Sally, Hannah, & Emma

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