Well, according to the votes in the comments section, the vast majority of you love to receive holiday letters from family and friends, although a few of you did admit not sending them yourselves. I have a sneaking suspicion that Marcia from Ontario is right, and the people who hate the letters (including my very own sister) just didn't leave a comment. Makes sense, right? People who enjoy reading blogs would most likely enjoy reading letters as well, and be more apt to leave a note letting me know.
So, if you're a letter-hater, just skip over the rest of this journal entry, because that's what it is .... our 2006 Holiday Letter. Posted here a day late, and a dollar short, because that's what happens when you fall asleep on the sofa at 8pm on Christmas night. Stupid Benadryl.
MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE ESCOES, THE 2006 VERSION
Greetings to all our family and friends this holiday season; I hope this letter finds you happy, healthy, and completely finished with your Christmas shopping! As you can see, I’m going once more with a “one-size-fits-all” group form letter to include with our Christmas photo, and I’m even hopeful that they’ll be mailed before the 24th of December. Depending on when you’re reading this, you’ll be able to tell for yourself whether I was successful or not. :)
Also, once again, I hesitate at the beginning of this note, wondering where to start and how much to share. But of course, like always, I’ll share everything, both the good and the bad, because Lord knows I can’t ever keep my big mouth shut and I blab everything I know. I’d like to think it’s one of my more endearing qualities but something tells me otherwise.
2006 was the fourth year in a row that cancer has been the prevailing theme for our family. I’m sick of it, Blaine is sick of it, Blaine’s doctors and co-workers are sick of it, our friends and family are sick of it, and I’m pretty sure those of you that receive this letter are sick of it, too. But like the proverbial elephant in the living room, maybe if I just acknowledge it and get it over with, then we’ll be able to move on to bigger and better things.
Excerpt from our 2005 Christmas Letter: “Regarding reconstruction, it’s funny how ‘getting rid of his cancer’ wound up being the easiest, least-stressful part of this whole process.”
And less than a month later, that sentence came around to bite us right on the butt, when we found out in January of this year that Blaine’s cancer had indeed returned. He was **this** close to finally getting teeth when his surgeons found two tumors that had recurred, one in his cheek and one next to his carotid artery. They were not able to remove them surgically, so Blaine spent five weeks in Seattle this spring having neutron beam radiation … not one of the more cheerful highlights of his life, that’s for sure. In a nutshell, it was really rough going. Summer and fall were spent recovering, and then in November we returned to Seattle to have (what we hope will be) his last “big” reconstructive surgery. Now, he’s down twenty pounds, recovering once again, and waiting to see if it was the success we all hope it will be. His first set of post-radiation scans showed no new tumor growth, which is good news, and although this is the fourth annual Christmas letter – IN A FREAKING ROW – where I’ve said this, I’ll repeat it once more this year …. “We’re really hopeful that by this time next year, this cancer experience will be all but a distant memory and Blaine will be totally healed and recovered, forever and ever, finished, done, amen.”
As for me, I plugged along pretty much like normal, staying continually busy in my role as chauffer-mediator-maid-laundress-homework-advisor-chef-social-director-caregiver, and volunteering at the kids’ school. I also tried to scrapbook whenever possible and got away for three weekends this year with some of the best girlfriends on the planet. I’m not sure where the rest of my “lost” hours go, but I suspect the black hole that is the Internet has something to do with it. One highlight of my year was my third surrogate journey, which culminated in the delivery of a beautiful baby boy, Nicolas C, on May 18th. Weighing in at just over 10 pounds, if I keep it up, at the rate I’m going, I should be giving birth to kindergarteners soon. On a sad note, my father passed away in July. We miss Dad terribly, even though he was an ornery old soul, and I know this holiday season won’t be the same without him. After all, who else will lay back in his recliner at Christmas lunch, close his eyes, and “pray for the astronauts” all day long? :)
Brayden continues to alternately baffle us and amuse us by one moment having the kindest, most generous heart on the planet, only to turn around and sulk or gripe or pout about something we have no idea we’ve even done. She has no patience and is easily frustrated (“Hello? Mirror? Spitting image of Kristie!”) and Blaine and I have been known to draw straws; loser has to help her with her homework. Then she’ll rotate and be the sweetest, most loving, most helpful little girl in the world. It’s certainly enough to keep us on our toes. She is nine years old and in the fourth grade. She takes ceramics class one afternoon a week, which she loves, and enjoys Girl Scouts. We’re pretty sure she’ll someday major in law, since arguing and debating are hands down her two greatest skills and favorite past-times.
Kellen, well, he’s a hoot, plain and simple. He does very well in school, but still claims recess and lunch are his favorites. He played basketball this year, and two seasons of baseball, but says he wants to go back to soccer in the fall because “sitting in the dugout is boring.” He’s rather play defense all the time, then wait his turn to bat! He practices daily his warrior skills and fighting maneuvers, usually in the living room (much to the chagrin of mom) and is working closer and closer to realizing his life-long dream of becoming a CIA ninja, and has renamed himself “Agent K”. It’s good to have goals, I guess. He is eight, in the third grade, and still wants me to pick out his clothes every morning because getting out of bed to do it himself “is too much work.” I’m so proud to know we’re raising such a go-getter!
And Kendrie, well, she pretty much cracks us up, every single day. When she’s not whining or throwing a tantrum, that is. I don’t know if all seven year olds still do those things, or if she’s just special. As you know, she is fast-approaching her one-year anniversary mark of finishing her leukemia treatment, and it’s a milestone we’re pretty excited about. She’s really blossomed this year; physically, she’s grown almost four inches since ending treatment; she’s in the first-grade gifted program at school, relished her first season of soccer, is currently missing her two-front teeth, and she’s much more outgoing and self-confident than ever before. On the downside, she still insists on wearing boys swim trunks in public, refuses to sleep in her own bed most nights, and has recently begun talking in a totally obnoxious Forrest Gump voice … what on earth is **that** about?
But obviously, we love all three of them dearly. And even love our old dog Lager (fifteen and a half!) although he’s deaf as a post and stinks to high heaven.
In between my pregnancy and delivery, and Blaine’s radiation and surgeries, we kept a pretty low profile and didn’t travel too far from home this year. We did spend a few weekends away; Camp Sunshine Family Camp in Atlanta, meeting the infamous Clan Banana in Florida, and a long family weekend this fall at Callaway Gardens in Georgia. I took the kids to OKC for a vacation this summer, and just a few weeks later, we returned as a family for my dad’s funeral. We’ll be headed back there for the Christmas holidays, and are looking forward to seeing the cousins again. But next year we’re hoping for better health, and more opportunities to travel ‘round the country, harassing friends from coast to coast. (Quick! Lock your doors! The Escoe family is coming!)
Until we have time to show up on your doorstep, most likely uninvited, and greet you properly, consider this letter our gesture of friendship to you. We wish you well this holiday season. May your stockings be full, your fires burn bright, your hearts overflowing with holiday cheer, and all that other cheesy stuff we say this time of year. We miss you all!