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Every year around this time, the Christmas cards come in. Even though the cards bring a tinge of guilt for me, as I rarely send any cards out any more, but feel, as a Responsible Adult™ I should be, I enjoy the cards I receive. They range from the hey-haven't-talked-to-you-in-years cards, to the thanks-for-being-my-friend cards, to the family cards, and everything in between. I receive a couple newsletters in these cards, too. Kris and I sent out a newsletter four Christmases ago, when all sorts of major changes in our lives happened (engagement, dogs, etc.), but haven't actually sent out cards since.

Maybe we shot our wad with that one....

[Side note: I actually looked up the origins and current cultural definitions of that phrase to make sure I didn't just write something offensive. I was pretty sure I hadn't, but, just in case. Turns out that, even though "shooting one's wad" can have a sexual reference, it actually means to spend all one's money (wad). The origins come from the Civil War era guns whose bullets were actually gun powder and musket balls wrapped together into a "wad," the term for the ball, powder, paper package. "Wad" meaning money happened sometime in the 1920's. Phew!]

Each year, amongst all the cards I receive, there's one in particular I look forward to reading: Charles and Noelle Cook's.

I met Charles at Freshman Camp. Caltech takes all Freshman off-campus for three days for an introduction to each other, to school, to what they're about to experience, to what they just got themselves in for, to some upperclassmen and to some faculty. I was horrible at meeting people then, well before I could just walk up to someone, stick my hand out and say hello. I was standing with my back to the camp ground, facing a building, trying really hard to learn to juggle the three balls I had with me, when Charles walked up to me and did exactly what I couldn't do: he said hello.

Charles' and Noelle's wedding inspired our wedding: an outdoor campground with everyone they love for a few days. Whoo, were there stories with that wedding, starting with my near inability to actually get there from the airport. Hello, crazy weekend.

Their newsletter always manages a very nice balance of what's happened in their lives for the last year, without going into the uncomfortable details that spoil some newsletters. I always read the newsletter with Noelle's voice, though I'm not 100% sure it's all her writing.

I think she hates me. When they lived in the area, I went over to their house to cook dinner for the group of us. When she asked if she could help, my answer was something to the effect of you can help me by leaving the kitchen. I didn't really say that, and I certainly didn't mean that, but it was a few years later before I realized what I had done. I had kicked a woman out of her own kitchen by my lack of tact. Yay me. Not.

But, I receive a card each year. This year, they moved to Europe. I'm both surprised ("OMG, they moved to EUROPE?"), as well as, well, a bit envious ("OMG, they moved to EUROPE!"), but they do these kinds of adventures. Kris mentioned they're the perfect family (husband, wife, two kids, dog, cat), mostly joking, though he's quite right. They're a family with parents who have their heads screwed on straight, life going in the right direction.

Of course, I'm projecting. I know it. Must be the newsletter's influence. It's that good.