Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Merry Christmas from the Claytors 2016



OK – show of hands:   Who survived 2016 with their emotional well-being intact…?  It all started with a gorilla (Harambe…RIP) and seems to have ended in a spray tanned orange Cheeto.  Anyone else hoping for a kinder, gentler 2017?  We should be so lucky but anyway…here goes nothin’ !!!

Colin’s first year at Prospect High School went well and he’s happy to be an ever more independent sophomore.  Still crushing guitar lessons at El Ray Music School, he performed in three musicals with SpotlightYouth Theater (Charlie Brown, Hairspray, Joseph and some kind of jacket or something, I forget now.)  In the summer, he visited Dad in the Netherlands (not sure if he steered clear of the Red Light District?) and upon return started DRIVING on his learner’s permit.  He’s really quite good at it if you don’t look in the rear view mirror and ignore the honking...  The official license is expected spring of 2017, which we’re all looking forward to so we can officially suspend the rotating parental Uber service for the busy artist.  We can all stay home, have a cocktail and wait for the phone calls…    

Caitlin is in year 4 earning her Music Education Degree from the University of Illinois, and spent the summer shunning her parents, living in her apartment in Urbana, and working as a tour guide for prospective students (which perfected her backward walking and pointing at buildings skills.)  She’s still playing Mellophone with the Marching Illini although she’s being courted by the Sousaphones to join them.  Or somebody lost a bet…whatever.  Aside from longboarding all over campus, she went on her first climbing trip without her Dad hovering over her, and was able to make it home for a week over the summer to join us for a quick visit to our friend’s Wisconsin cabin, shortly before turning 21.  We kinda “looked the other way” and let her have a few sips of adult beverages during that trip.  I wonder how she liked it because I’m sure that was totally the first time…        

What is there to say about Otter?  He accompanied Kelly on a few Friday's out in The Nature. Evidently he's taken on the role of Chris's spirit animal, as we determined Otter to be strangely sensitive to the comings and goings of all the family members. With Caitlin staying away all summer and Chris overseas he was quite put out, often found sleeping by the side door waiting for his wayward people to return.  But now that everyone is home and he has all his people near him, all is right with the world. Good Dog!

Kelly started a new job with The Joint Commission, enjoying a part time schedule through the spring and summer which allowed her to boss around the contractors during our kitchen renovation, organize rocks in the yard (fortheloveofgod don't ask), visit Chris during his stay in The Netherlands, and primarily spent her days endeavoring to maintain his sanity. A year in the planning, Scotland was on the itinerary for our 10th anniversary, an epic trip complete with puppies and rainbows and bagpipes...So. Many. Bagpipes.  She went full time in October just in time to resurrect the infamous “shark costume(fortheloveofgod don't ask) for the company’s Halloween costume competition…which she won, duh.  After traveling to San Diego to paint a thirty foot long mural (fortheloveof - oh whatever) she capped off the year by donating twelve inches of her unreasonably thick hair.  She briefly considered making 5000 paint brushes with it, but figured donating to Wigs for Kids will balance out her Karma...Hair Follicle Namaste?  

As many are aware, it was quite an eventful year for Chris.  It all started with an work assignment overseas.  Before diving into that he made sure to take a rock climbing trip to Arizona, Emcee a competition at Vertical Endeavors, and perform a summer Recorder recital with The Baron’s Noyse.  He did make it to The Netherlands, but no one told him it was full of Dutch people (was anyone else aware of this?)  After living and working in Dordrecht (the Dutch equivalent of Schaumberg) for a little over 3 months, he decided to return to more familiar ‘Merican surroundings and return to his post at Michael Lewis.  So he’s officially repatriated, exceedingly happy to be back with family and friends, and already planning Dutch-Free adventures for 2017!

This was definitely the year that we turned over the apple cart and tried some new things – some of it stuck, and some of it didn’t.  But we’re all happy to be together, healthy, and definitely looking to push the boundaries more every year...like maybe the boundaries to Canada, eh.

I’m pretty sure the Russians have hacked this Christmas letter, so please don’t take it too seriously or consider any of us for higher office.  I mean, how much worse could it…ohhh…right.

Oh well – here’s to surviving!

Love, Chris, Kelly, Caitlin, Colin, and Otter!