Now we have something to write

I can always tell my mail has arrived by the distinct squeak-clank the mailbox makes as letters and other miscellaneous items are placed inside.

On one particular day last week, I was going through my recently deposited stash?junk, recycle bin, junk, recycle bin?when there it was, the first Christmas card of the season. I opened it to find a photo-card with three smiling faces and a merry Christmas wish.

After opening the card, I went through three levels of emotion. First, a feeling of warmth?we were remembered this Christ?mas by friends living in Oklahoma.

Second, a feeling of good intentions?our family should send out greeting cards this year with the face of our adorable 8-month-old plastered on the front.

Third, a feeling of guilt?there is no way our friends in Oklahoma (or anywhere else for that matter) will receive a photo of our daughter in her Christ?mas dress because I don?t have time to address and stamp card after card with 42-cent (or is it 43 cents by now?) stamps, and take the aforementioned cards to the post office. My to-do list is already overbooked.

Since that first card, there has been a slow trickle?and by slow trickle I mean two?of cards that have gained entrance to my mailbox. Is this a sign that Christmas greetings are of little importance, or is it merely something of good intention for people who lack time and motiva?tion?

For the past two years I have tried to rid myself of my greeting-card-guilt by designing my own eCard, complete with family pictures. Sending a mass e-mail of warm wishes takes care of the time factor, but does nothing for a personal touch. And an eCard doesn?t even come close to the ?warm wishes? level of a Christmas letter.

I?m always in awe of the few who manage to write (and send) a Christmas letter each year. And some even manage to get creative by starting each paragraph with a letter that spells out a hidden Christmas wish, or basing the letter on a well-known Christmas poem.

If I were going to send out a Christmas letter, this would be the year to start. After adding a baby in April, our daily goings-on suddenly have interest.

I would write to friends and family that 2008 has been a year of change for the Just family. The beginning of the year was filled with anticipation as we awaited the birth of our first child. We passed the time by buying two sets of baby bedding because mommy-to-be was indecisive. The first set was neutral, but once it was certain we would have a little girl, mommy couldn?t resist lavender and butterflies. In effect, the yellow nursery walls were repainted with a color that screamed ?little girl? (in hushed tones, of course).

After Gracelyn?s birth, time flew by. We celebrated many milestones in the first months, including first smile, first laugh, first coo, first time to roll over, first time to sit up unassisted.

Recently her time has been spent cutting two teeth, feeding herself ?puffs? and Cheerios, babbling ?dadada? and ?mamama? and learning to crawl.

Daddy and Mommy have enjoyed the gradual progression of becoming mobile. Gracelyn?s intense curiosity for her surroundings have prompted a ?crawl? that has elements of a bear crawl, worm crawl and military crawl all rolled into one.

She will begin in a traditional crawling position, taking off from a sitting position. After taking one or two ?steps? she flops to her belly and shimmies across the floor, using her arms for momentum (military crawl) and alternating between raising her back and pushing with her toes (think bear crawl) and sliding on her belly using one leg to push while dragging the other leg behind her.

Despite the humorous nature of her attempts to crawl, she manages to get anywhere she wants, prompting mommy and daddy to rethink object placement throughout the house.

It?s hard to believe how quickly Gracelyn has transformed from a newborn to a little girl. She has a sweet disposi?tion, but it is also becoming apparent that she has a mind of her own. And Mommy and Daddy have a sneaking suspicion her first sentence will be, ?I do it myself.?

At her church dedication in October, Pastor Gaylord said the names Gracelyn Abigail mean ?refreshing grace? and ?joyful.? His hope for Gracelyn is that she will be a refreshing woman whose life is filled with God?s grace and joy.

With your help, our family and friends, we are well on our way to raising our daughter in the Truth of this Christmas season.

Many blessings, Brad, Malinda and Gracelyn.

P.S. And I didn?t even go to the post office.

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