|A portrait of our family drawn by Arthur.|
(this is the Christmas card Jessica wrote this year)
Dear Friends and Family,
Last year I made caramels for our family Christmas gifts. Two varieties - Smoked Sea Salt and Pink Pepper Corn - mostly forged while holding two babies into the night after the boys were asleep. Oh, I’m sorry. You didn’t get any? That’s because we were too harried to follow through and get them all sent out. After watching the insanity of managing four small children while concocting bags and bags of homemade treats that were never received my mother made me promise not to make the Christmas gifts myself this year. And so I am not. But I did manage to put together this card to commemorate our year. And it was a doozy, with incredible highs and desperate lows. All the flavors of life were tasted in 2011 by the Parker Garvins, and we are grateful for everything we take into 2012.
At the beginning of 2011 it took a team of three or four adults to babysit our kids if I wasn’t around and now one person can handle it, no problem. The girls have moved from being infants, demanding a lot of holding and rocking and cajoling to girls who are teetering on two legs and opening up the bottom cupboards to pull out and open a box of crackers and start eating. Art can sound out words if forced and write them down, draw pictures that look like things (like our family portrait on this Christmas card) and ride a two-wheeler. Lewis went from saying lovely little misspeaks like “lasternight” to crafting delightful verbal experiences like, “Momma, what if paper had a head and arms and hands and feet and could draw itself?" We have come a long way.
We were able to spend time with all of Ben’s family this year which was a real treat. In October we made a trip out to North Carolina, all six of us, to see Ben’s dad, Tim, and his wife, Cynthia. The kids spent time with their cousins out there, Mira and Zach, and trick-or-treated in a suburban neighborhood that closed off the entire community after 6:30pm. The candy-crazed kids literally owned the streets. We also made a trip to see Ben’s grandmother, Peg, in Indiana. This was an important chance for Peg to meet the girls, and sadly her last. Sweet Peg died in November leaving behind her three children, Jennifer, Ken and Nan. And we saw Ben’s mom, Nan, or “Nanna” to the kids, several times including two long visits when she basically took my place at home so I could be with my mother while she was in hospice, an invaluable gift that I could never possibly repay. Thank you for every moment of that time, Nan.
Both Ben and I had professional highlights as well. Ben was honored by the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists with their inaugural “Journalist of the Year” award, above all other writers and photographers who had entered the category. That was a lovely surprise! He also outdid the competing paper at event after event, according to both of us, and shot some of his most beautiful weddings to date, according to me. Maybe him, too. As for me, my big professional highlight was finding a new profession! I followed a pipe dream and started a play-based preschool class at my local park. It started with a disparate crew of preschool newbies who came with a host of behavioral challenges yet I stuck with it and feel I’ve found a calling. I can’t wait for the next session to start in January!
But perhaps the greatest and biggest event of the year was losing Adria, my mother, this kids’ beloved Bubbe and Ben’s dear friend. She kept our family grounded and safe and loved at all times. And the children clothed. All the baby holding, buffet tidying, head kissing, puzzle doing, children outfitting, pizza eating, political ranting, objectivity supplying, spotlight-car driving, coffee drinking and so much more is so dearly cherished. She would hate me going on like this and if she believed in an afterlife she would be grimacing at me as I type. Possibly even giving me a nudge to stop while gasping, “Jessica!”
We are grateful for so much as we enter the New Year. Our health, home, and each other. We each have our siblings here in Minneapolis and extended family as well. We have working cars and jobs and a great babysitter. We feel fortunate and we hope the New Year brings good fortune to you as well.
Jessica, Ben, Art, Lewis, Netta and Bailey
(That’s oldest to youngest, by the way.)