Monday, December 21, 2009

A Christmas Tradition

By popular demand, I have once again compiled our family’s adventures into the annual Christmas letter. Unlike other letters you may receive, ours lacks the depiction of the perfect family complete with 2.1 children who are on the honor roll.

Our kids forget to flush, fight with their siblings, walk through the house with muddy boots, and pick their noses in church. With that in mind, I hope you enjoy our year in review. 

Dear Friends and Family,

Although the calendar on my wall still says October, the date on the last newspaper was December 9, so it must be time for the annual Christmas newsletter.

As usual, I must devote a significant amount of space to the many accomplishments of our children. Riley, who turned 12 this fall, continues his quest to horrify his mother with impressive burps at the dinner table. He has officially mastered the tone of voice that indicates his disbelief that people so inept could have possibly contributed to his genetic makeup. His attitude toward his parents is quite improved when he is in need of help or money. The last such circumstance ended with his parents plucking chickens.

Thankfully, Anna has not begun any business ventures that require feed, shoveling, or plucking. An avid reader, she is refining the skills of procrastination and avoidance of responsibility by keeping her nose in a book in a quiet room somewhere. Her love affair with horses continues, and while it may be an expensive distraction, we are hoping that it serves to keep her mind off boys for 10 more years or so.

Whatshisname, the forgotten middle child, has apparently learned to read somewhere along the line. That comes in pretty handy when his exhausted mother needs someone to entertain the little one. Matthew’s teacher says he is doing well in school, although he seems to have inherited his father’s inability to keep track of his gloves, glasses, books, pens, and jackets. He has also inherited the farmer gene; his last nightmare was about bad weather.

The only child at home, Emma Lou spends her days as Mom’s shadow. The independence that may be a strong trait in adulthood isn’t nearly so desirable in a four-year-old, but it certainly provides for some entertainment when she dresses herself each morning. She carries off neon flowered shirts and plaid skirts like no one else. Since four is that delightful age during which children remark about their mother’s housekeeping habits, I try to keep her home as much as possible, and the cows and chickens don’t seem to be concerned about her wardrobe. She has mastered writing her name, and we try not to discourage her creativity by complaining that she practices writing it with her sticky fingers on the window and with her father’s toothbrush on the bathroom mirror.

In addition to chickens and horses, the kids have also taken to raising an alarming number of barn cats. Our previous methods of population control are not easily achieved now that every kitten born on the place is named and subsequently adored by one of the children.

The population control challenge doesn’t apply to our cows, which drop dead for no apparent reason whatsoever. I advised Shane to stop checking the cows when he complained that every time he went out he found one sick or dead, but he didn’t heed my advice. Thanks to my handy cattle management software, my computer was able to calculate exactly how much revenue we lost as a result of those deaths, which prompted my husband to curse the invention of such a contraption.

Thanks to the subzero temperatures we experienced during the peak of calving, my organizational efforts will be difficult with this year’s calf crop. At this point, the replacement heifers can all be identified as “black earless heifer with no tag.” Thankfully, our cow herd was not in the running for the county beautification award. In fact, they’re lucky to be alive after competing with the grasshoppers for grass all summer.

We learned a valuable lesson in the importance of a timely harvest when a lightning strike burned our stubble field two days after it was harvested. Our harvest was once again much more successful than our efforts to predict the market and sell at the right time.

Despite our imperfections, we are thankful for our blessings and humbled by the resources with which we have been entrusted. We are thankful that we can retain a sense of humor while raising imperfect children and making a living in an industry with so many variables. And during this Christmas season, we are especially thankful for the gift of Jesus, a gift freely given and undeserved.

Wishing you each a very Merry Christmas and a new year of bountiful harvests, fat calves, and plentiful moisture.

~ The Slivka Family


Mum-me said...

Love your Christmas letter. Hope the cows stop dying and you can sell your crops for a profit. Merry Christmas.

Debbie said...

Thank goodness; a letter that I enjoyed reading. It was far too believable to be prevaricated! I liked it. In fact, I got a good laugh out of it, which is more than I can say for the letters I get in some of my Christmas cards. I regret your cow loss; hope things go better in the coming year. I hear about how hard times are for farming families, who, in my opinion, should be right up there under soldiers! Thanks for a look at a normal family at Christmas. I'll send some of my friends a your link, so they can get real:D
Merry Christmas!

Pony Girl said...

Oh that was great, I smiled and chuckled at the parts about your children (whatshisname! :) Overall it sounds like a good year. I can relate to your daughters love of horses- and I am testimony that it kept me out of trouble with the boys for many years!! :) Happy holidays to you and yours!

Dawn said...

Sure to make everyone smile!

Merry Christmas, Erin!!!

Jenni said...

If all Christmas letters were like yours, I don't think anyone would mind receiving them. Yours is the perfect balance of news about the family and humor all served up humbly and with a thankful attitude. I love it.

Jenny said...

Thanks! I love your letters! You are a very gifted writer.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... I'm thinking I like the Christmas letter that I got in the mail from another Slivka ;) Both letters are awesome :) Merry Christmas Erin!

Paula Glover said...

Your blog is so uplifting, by being honest and humorous. I enjoy it tremendously, and I feel better by just reading you unexpectedly lose cattle also! May the Lord bless you and your family in the new year!

Catherine said...

Hi! I found your blog via via and thought your photos lovely - we in Ireland are having very unaccustomed snow and are in the midst of what we describe as the Big Freeze - probably laughable to someone with regular annual freezing weather!
Your Christmas Letter was lovely - I have one over at my blog if you would like to take a look - it's the 20th December post - and I have photos on it as well. Very different lives yet much common ground - I have been through the childhood years and am now parenting 3 adults, one teenager and will become a granny for the first time next month! So you are right to be nostalgic for the last decade but the next one will be thrilling for different reasons to see your kids grow into their own personalities and independent spirits.
Hope you drop by my blog!

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