Friday, December 28, 2012

The Christmas Letter

For those who missed the print version:

Based on your longstanding friendship with the David Overly Family, you have been selected to receive a ballot for the 2012 Overly Awards.  (You’re welcome!)  Upon completion, ballots should be returned to us at (home address)*

Best thing about living in Utah (select one):
   For the first time in five years, we didn’t have to pack up and move (hallelujah!)
   We don’t have to deal with airport security to visit family and no one in our minivan cares if the kids are crying
   We can watch LDS General Conference in our pajamas

Best lesson in patience (select one):
   David, for trudging through two more busy seasons at Big Prestigious Company
   Bonnie, for cleaning up after innumerable twin-related disasters
   Bonnie, for teaching Michael how to tie his shoes

Biggest accomplishment of the year (select one):
   Bonnie, for successfully potty-training the twins
   Bonnie, for successfully potty-training the twins
   Bonnie, for successfully potty-training the twins (What, you think someone else should win this one??)

Funniest thing to come out of 6-year-old Michael’s mouth (select one):
   “Mom, I finished cleaning my room!  Don’t look under my bed, okay?”
   Trying to decide between marrying his friend, Samara, or his friend, Clara:  “Mom, can I marry two girls?”
    To dinner guests:  "My dad's been caught by the police three times!"

Best thing about Michael learning to speak French in the language immersion program at school:
   If we are ever stuck in France, Michael will be able to ask where the bathroom is
   We have an excuse to eat more pastries
   We can now sound more intellectual by legitimately using phrases like “joie de vivre” and “soupe du jour”

Most creative disaster concocted by our almost 3-year-old twins, Matthew and Leah (select one):
□  The one where Matthew opened the garage freezer, turned the temperature to “off” and then shut the door, resulting in over $100 of ruined food and Mom spending an hour scraping rotted chicken guts and soggy roll dough off of every shelf
□ The one where Leah and Matthew performed what can only be described as a “spice dance” in the kitchen, using entire jars of cumin, ginger, and red pepper flakes,  and, as a bonus, a bottle of blue food coloring
  The one where Leah and Matthew were caught naked on the bathroom counter, up to their knees in a sink overflowing with soapy water, rubbing a stick of butter all over each other and the mirror

Most difficult disaster to clean (select one):
□  Butter smeared all over the inside of the toaster
White-out painted (and dried) all over the kitchen bar stools
Vaseline smeared on the carpet

Cleaning product which has done the most to ensure the twins’ continued survival (select one):
□ Mr. Clean Magic Erasers
□ Clorox Wipes
□ Little Green Carpet Cleaner

Best Way to Keep In Touch With Us (select all) :
□  Send us an email at (email address)
□ Check our blog:
□ Call us at one of our phone numbers:
     Home:   xxx-xxx-xxxx
     David Cell:  xxx-xxx-xxxx
     Bonnie Cell:  xxx-xxx-xxxx

We Want to Wish You (select all):
□ A Merry Christmas
□ A joyful New Year
     Scales that have been set back ten pounds

*Don’t worry, you don’t actually have to return the ballot (unless you want to, of course - in which case, drop it off in person and stay for a visit!)   

Love, The Overlys

David, Bonnie, Michael, Matthew and Leah

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

God is Not Dead

On Tuesday, July 9, 1861, with the nation in a midst of civil war, a fire in the home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow claimed the life of his beloved wife, Fanny.  Henry had tried to save her from the raging flames and sustained serious burns.  Fanny was buried three days later, on their 18th wedding anniversary, while Henry was confined to bed, fighting to live.  

Listen to the story, as told by Edward Herrmann and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  Its message is more important and relevant than ever:

"...For Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, as one war rages without, another rages within.  For the next two years, Christmases come and go.  Henry writes, 'How inexpressibly sad are all the holidays.  "A merry Christmas!" say the children, but that is no more for me.  Perhaps some day God will give me peace.'

"And then Henry learns that his eldest son, Charles, who ran away to join the army, has been critically wounded in battle. Henry rushes to Washington to bring his son home, and after days of searching, he finds him barely alive.  With the outbreak of war, Fanny's terrible death, and now two years later his son desperately clinging to life, we should not be surprised that on Christmas Day 1863, Henry reaches for his pen and writes, "It was as if an earthquake rent the hearthstones of a continent.  And in despair I bowed my head.  'There is no peace on earth,' I said.  For hate is strong and mocks the song of 'peace on earth, good will to men.'  

"Reading his words today we ask, when conflict rages, and pain, grief and loneliness overwhelm us, where is the music of hope and peace?  For Henry, the answer to that question has everything to do with Christmas.  After Fanny's death, he had written, 'So strong is the sense of her presence upon me, that I should hardly be surprised to look up now and see her in the room.  Death is a beginning, not an end.'  

"On that Christmas morning, it is clear to Henry that war, injury, and even death are not the end.  The rising sun turns the icy river to silver, and the windows of the Longfellow home to gold.  Henry's children bundled in winter wool are whisked past snowy fields through wooded hills and valleys along the road to home.  They look up, blinking and giggling in the falling snow, and they hear the sounds that make Christmas Christmas.  They hear the bells!  From his desk, Henry hears them too.  Renewed, he plunges his pen into fresh ink, joyfully drawing it across a sheet of snow white paper: 

"I heard the bells on Christmas day, 
Their old familiar carols play
And wild and sweet the words repeat, 
of peace on earth, good will to men."

"In those bells the message is clear: on Christmas day a child was born in a stable.  Of that child Henry writes, 'Tho in a manger thou draw breath, thou art greater than life and death.'  And so He is!

"Then pealed the bells more loud and deep, 
God is not dead nor doth he sleep.  
The wrong shall fail the right prevail
With peace on earth good will to men."  

"As the bells ring on Henry dips his pen again and again.  Because Christmas lives on, Fanny lives on, Charles lives on, a nation lives on.  And we, each one of us, may live on as well, in hope and peace forever."