As you may have noticed, our very favorite holiday tradition is the reading and writing of the Phelps Phamily Christmas Letter. It isn’t the usual letter, this one tends to lean toward the unusual, while still giving you the fairly standard family update. We get that it isn’t normal, but we are quite happy with whatever label you want to put on it.

We don’t think we are Santa’s gift to letter writing, but those of you who got the first of these letters in the actual mail, with actual stamps, asked over and over for re-prints, and some of you that are newbies begged for ‘prior installment’ copies. Well, here you go, have at it, who can deny someone who wants a good read with their cup of coffee.

What you may not know is that we tie our whole christmas theme to these letters – the tree is decorated in the theme, the christmas photo goes with the theme, the card that goes with the letter matches the theme, we have even had dinner in the theme! Someday, we may go hi-tech and show you the pictures, but really, we do have a life the other 11 months of the year…

We lost a little of some of the letters in formatting them like this; things like nifty fonts, or creative paper, but you get the point and the story is still there. Leave us a message if you have a favorite letter or you remember the events of that year, and sign up for the December notification of the next episode. Who knows what the year will bring and how it will show itself in the letter?!

Merry Christmas!

Twas the last night of Quarantine and all the devices were off, not a program was running, not even Microsoft. 

Clean pajamas were spinning in the washer on high, in hopes that the swab team soon would arrive.

The children were settled, in their own houses and we are pissed, with Webinar passwords clutched tight in their fists,

and Chr’s in his mask and I in my shield, had just closed our Ipads for a long two week nap.

When out on the porch their arose such a clatter, I sprang from my armchair to see what was the matter!

Away to the laptop, I punched in my code, I opened Ring Doorbell and prepared to behold,

the sign from the health department glowed in the snow, gave the look of a hospital to objects below.

Then an overworked nurse, with the greatest of care, jammed a long cotton swab right up my nare, 

with a little old virus so lively and keen, I knew in a moment it was Covid-19!

With an infection rate faster than influenza they came, politicians tried to find someone to blame.

Now Wash, Now Wipe, Now Hand Sanitize! On Mask, On Shield, Stay six feet away! To the PPE Box, To the Stickers on the Floor! Now Back Away, Back Away, Back Away More!

Like Kleenex in hand for the weekly uploaded test rates, when they raise over limits, and cause 14 day waits, 

so up to the Governor with a mask mandate they go, an Amazon truck full of supplies and …Dr. Fauci, too! 

And then in the twilight I heard on the deck, the coughing and sniffling of each suffering wreck. 

As I drew back from the door and was turning around, down the chimney Dr. Fauci came with a bound.

He was dressed in a gown from his front to his back, and his glasses, they were fogged from an ill-fitting mask.

A bundle of PPE, he had such a huge stack, he looked like an internist, just turning vent settings back.

His eyes barely visible! His dimples non-existent! His face shield was foggy, his scrubs fluid resistant. 

His tennis shoes scuffed like he’d been wearing them lots, and the underarm stains showed that his gown was really hot. 

The oximeter gadget remained clamped on his finger, and the thermometer raised to his forehead did linger.

He had a slight cough and a little stuffy nose, that caused me to stop and strike a nurse pose. 

He was sick as a dog, and had need to stay home, and I laughed when I saw him, if I didn’t I’d moan.

A call to his mother to come get him STAT, an isolation confinement was his in his future just like that. 

He spoke not a word, his Zoom microphone was off, so we gestured and pointed, until he smothered his cough.

After washing his hands, he dried rather well, and handed out vaccines, not just to young but to all.  

He jumped onto the train, to the care team gave a whistle, and away they all ran, some with worries that were fiscal.

But we heard him exclaim from our separate offices in the house,

“Happy Christmas to all and prepare for your shots!”

There you have it.  2020. Started with Australia burning and just went on from there: murder hornets, riots, work from home, layoffs, hurricanes, travel shutdowns, delays, the great toilet paper shortage, elections, California fires, and…Covid…

But good things happened. We don’t get to see the grand-daughter Isla much, but she knows how to face-time. Brilliant child. She thinks we have to stay home to take care of our trees. (?) So, in her eyes we are avid environmentalists. We got to put up thousands of Christmas lights on the new house.  Next year we have goals for more! The infamous ‘Labor and Delivery’ trailer was called into play for all the ‘kids’ and everyone enjoys where they live, even if they are there on Quarantine. Hannah and Riley live in a town that completely enjoys their holiday celebrations and their house will really be decked for Christmas per an order on the back of their electric bill.  They expect another addition in May and we are all excited about that! The likelihood that this will go over well with Isla is low.  Shannon and Ryan had some pandemic water problems, but, they learned a lot about sheetrock taping. They dote on their puppy, Ollie, and he attends more classes than a grad student.  Liz and AJ moved mid-pandemic and Liz changed jobs. Imagine having to learn all new co-workers when all you can see are two eyes over their mask. They have two adorable grand-pups named Roo and Kayla, and Liz creates the most fantastic grooming styles on them.  My clear favorite is the furry Christmas sweater. 

We plan to, well, umm, take better care of our trees I guess in 2021. We hope you, too, have exciting plans for the next year. Take care of yourselves, wash your hands, protect others, and live in the moment. 

Peace, Joy, and Cover Your Cough