Christmas Letter 2011

Warning- this post is essentially the bit of paper you get inside the Christmas card, that makes you snigger (if infact you read it at all).  Yep, the beloved Christmas circular…

Dear All,

With thanks to The Week for the headings:

Good year for:

Weight loss- Shawn and I have lost a combined total of 3 stone this year.  I am still the same size as the “fat” one in Little Mix.


Clarity- Shawn has come to feel that the time is coming to move into more adult ministry.  Judging by the fan mail and pressies, he is rather good at weddings, baptisms and funerals, and he enjoys them more than he expected.


New skills- Charis has learnt to talk and Alexa has learnt to read.  The old dogs have no new tricks.


Challenges- I have become the editor of Closer to God, daily Bible notes.


Bad year for:


Sleep: we have been tired for most of 2011 thanks to Charis suffering from teething, coughs, vomiting bugs, and excess nocturnal energy.  As I write, she has slept for four solid nights in a row, so maybe this is the beginning of a new era of refreshed and rested Swinneys, ready to take on the world.


Courgettes: these are supposedly indestructible and yet I managed to kill nine in infancy.


Exotic holidays- we didn’t get anywhere hot or exciting in 2011.  Wales is lovely, but not exactly hot or exciting.  Shawn got to go the Willow Creek Leadership Summit in Chicago though.


Mice- Ella is honing her hunting skills.   I did not appreciate the headless gift she placed on my pillow one night.  Ungrateful, I know…


What the scientists are saying


Jo, Alexa and Charis were diagnosed with Paroxysmal Kinesogenic Diskinesia.  Sounds worse than it is.


¾ of our family are left handed.


We don’t get enough sunlight in the English winters for Jo to be happy.  She feels better now she has a SAD light.


Wit and Wisdom


Alexa: Can I have some real food for my party?


Me: No, you’ve just had lunch.


Alexa: But we’re not going to eat it.  We’re just going to celebrate with it.


Charis, taking her doll for a walk, “Let’s do it baby!”


Alexa to me (aged 33): Mum you look like a grown up in what you’re wearing.


Me: Don’t I usually?


Alexa: No.


Talking Points


What we bang on about-


Shawn- shall I trade in my computer for a smaller, faster one? Where is my iphone/ipad/laptop/remote control?


Jo- how can I get more sleep?


Alexa- how do you spell….?


Charis- Doing?  (we have to narrate all our actions so our nosy little two year old is kept in the loop).




Shawn is playing basketball every week, and I still go running twice a week.


We got tickets to the Olympics- boxing or wrestling or something like that.


Alexa does ballet and Charis goes everywhere at double the speed of anyone else.




We had the great pleasure of Thena and Judith’s camper van on our drive for a week in the summer (occupied by its owners).  Thena is my adopted godmother and Judith my Canadian shrink.   Not to be confused with my Hungarian one.


The legendary Donata from Italy lived with us for the month of September.  We taught her English in exchange for childcare, cooking, company, cleaning, shopping, entertainment…. yep, she got a bum deal.


Alexa is at school with Comedy Dave’s daughter.  He is apparently famous.  I hadn’t heard of him either, but he’s the closest I’ve come to a celebrity this year, and that is what the People section is supposed to be about.  Shawn has just told me (drum roll) that he saw Peter Jones from the Dragon’s Den at the side of the road a few weeks ago.


I am going to be co-writing a new book with Katharine Hill, from Care for the Family.  Due out in October 2012, more info to follow.


Last Word


As usual, we write knowing that this year has had its ups and downs for all of us.  We pray that in this busy season and in the days to come you will know these words from Isaiah to hold true to your experience-


“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.


Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.


They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

With love,

The Swinneys x