Eric is passionate about Christmas letters. He believes they are a disappearing art form. For years we would linger at the Christmas dinner table reading the letters of other people—laughing at the ridiculous details of their lives often shared in long lists of extraneous information; discerning the subtext of how they really felt about that family member that got the shortest, or longest, paragraph; and generally mocking the lives of people we sometimes only knew from the annual letters sent to my parents. Last year Eric and I made our first attempt at writing our family’s Christmas letter together. Actually, last year it was more like writing the letter against each other—Eric wanted only sarcastic biting humor, I softened it with kindness and nostalgia. This year’s letter was truly a collaboration of writing partners. Perhaps that foreshadows a harmonious 2012 for our family. So, go ahead…laugh, mock and come to your own conclusions…
Goodwill Toward Man (and Woman and Child)
People talk about creation as a remote fact of history, as if it were something that was attended to a long time ago, and finished at the time. But creation was not an act; it is a process; and it is going on to-day as much as it ever was. ~John Muir
A century ago, while living in what would become our National Parks, John Muir came to the realization that we are living in the sixth day of creation. Today, in our city streets and public squares, we are witnessing and influencing that eternal process.
The wisdom of John Muir embodies the paradigm shift we experienced in our own lives in 2011. Rather than living in frustration with the repercussions of our past, we embraced our ability to influence our present and our future.
After years of being at home with young children, Victoria is venturing out into the community—both virtually and concretely. If you’re not already subscribing to her blogs, she encourages you to visit her online at BirthingFromWithinWestchester.com for all things birth related, and VictoriaGearity.com for everything else. Victoria is grateful for all of the couples who invite her to share in their journey to birth. She looks forward to teaching more childbirth preparation classes at Full Circle Family Care in the coming year.
This summer Victoria took on two new positions. She became the editor of the Shapiqua Almanak, the newsletter for the Chappaqua Quaker Friends Meeting we attend, and was appointed to serve on the Village of Ossining’s Environmental Advisory Council (EAC). One thing Victoria especially enjoys about the Almanak is the opportunity to write something each month on a topic she might not otherwise consider—the life of the meeting’s membership, how 9/11 impacted her, harvesting food and friends…
Victoria’s role with the EAC has expanded to include becoming a liaison between Energize Ossining and the Northern Westchester Energy Action Consortium (NWEAC), a program using stimulus money to facilitate homeowners’ efficiency upgrades. If you are a homeowner in a northern Westchester community, please contact her to learn how you can take advantage of this exciting program.
This year was a milestone for Victoria. Although Eric was incapable of maintaining the surprise aspect of the party, she was thrilled to celebrate her 40th birthday in her parents’ backyard. Eric delighted in the opportunity to plan the big event with his mother-in-law. Friends from every arena of Victoria’s life were in attendance. Guests who stayed late into the evening were surprised by the Winchester 1892 Trapper Takedown 357 Magnum Eric purchased for his beloved wife. The story behind the gift is even longer than this Christmas letter will permit.
Eric’s career took an exciting turn. It was so dramatic, it felt like he changed careers. By working nearly the entire year as a rigging or construction grip, he cut back to a 50-hour workweek. He was home to put his boys to bed nearly every night. He was alert and able to participate at his son’s soccer clinic on Saturday mornings this fall. And he could even carry on relatively coherent conversations at the farmers market afterward.
Eric’s springtime Saturdays were spent learning to weld at Third Ward in Brooklyn. He enjoyed the opportunity to immerse himself in an artistic environment. And he looks forward to furthering his knowledge this spring in an industrial setting at the Hobart Institute of Welding Technology in Ohio. He’s preparing to purchase his own welder as soon as he can find a buyer for his 2003 Sportster 883 XL Custom Gun Metal Pearl Anniversary Edition Harley Davidson with just 2,600 miles.
There were two Saturdays this year when Eric made time to attend Quaker worship with the inmates at Otisville Correctional Facility. “How do you feel about the NYS correctional system?” was a difficult question for Eric to answer in his application process. It’s hard to imagine having sat with these men, most of whom have been incarcerated more years than they’ve lived free, that it would even be a question in our state whether or not to change the laws so we can no longer try minors as adults.
Our annual July 4th week trip to Block Island grows more enjoyable each year the boys grow more independent. We all brought our bikes to BI, and Pax took his first ride on two wheels. On trips to the beach, the boys have graduated from eating sand to riding a boogie board. This is the third year that we’ve shared our week with Eric’s Aunt Jackie. Victoria’s parents made their first trip to BI this year, spending two nights at our cottage. With Eric’s parents nearby on their boat, the boys got to enjoy all of their grandparents together.
Paxton and Levon had their first day of work this year as school children in Sarah Jessica Parker’s movie I Don’t Know How She Does It. Soon after his first day of work, Paxton traveled to Albany with Eric and his friend Crowe, a UCATS Steward. They stood with labor unions from across NYS in solidarity with Wisconsin. On the way home Crowe informed Paxton, “You are a friend of the working man forever.” To which Paxton replied, “I am a working man.” Although Levon was home sick for this rally, his activism with the whole Gearity clan would come. In September our family proudly marched up Fifth Avenue as part of the IATSE Local 52 contingent in the NYC Labor Day Parade. Then Nana and Papa joined us on a visit to Zuccotti Park where the boys became the youngest and cutest members of the Occupy Wall Street drum circle.
Paxton’s intensity is matched only by his beauty and intellect. He is in Mrs. Neri’s PreK class in the Ossining Public Schools. He loves it. While gym and playground are still his favorite activities, he also takes great pride in his burgeoning writing and drawing skills, and is learning Spanish from many of his classmates. Paxton’s passion for soccer has Eric eager for the next snowfall so he can have an afternoon off. Levon is an equally enthusiastic participant in soccer, introducing such new elements to the sport as talking-time-outs and oral replays.
Levon’s spirit is so engaging, when he smiles at strangers they blush and giggle. He attends an afternoon enrichment program at a nursery school in our community four afternoons a week. While the highlight for him is also the playground, Levon has expressed great enthusiasm about his science experiments and ceramics projects. On Mondays he and Victoria go to Quest Yoga Arts for Mommy & Me Yoga. He’s already asking when his new session will begin.
In 2011 we have expanded our effort to live our values. The list of all that we strive to do differently is ever evolving. We are grateful for the wealth of wise friends and family that inspires us to be constantly learning and rethinking our perspectives and place in the world.
Whether to you this season represents the birth of a child, the success of a rebellion, or the celebration of cultural heritage— in this darkest month, the focus is on light to guide us into a new year.
May you find great joy and inspiration in 2012.
The Gearity Family