Saturday, December 20, 2014

The 2014 Jones Family Christmas Letter

There are many Christmas traditions on this blog, and one of them has been to do a Christmas letter for our friends and family. If you are thinking, "WOW! What a cheap and lazy way to send a Christmas letter!" you are not wrong. But it is important to us to include you in our lives and let you know how important each one of you is to us. So imagine, if you will, that this letter is addressed specifically to you. And thanks for reading...

Let's start with Will, who somehow turned 19 this year. He's one semester and one summer class away from finishing his AA degree at St. Pete College and then heading off to the film school at UCF. He will share an apartment on campus with an old friend from high school (and one other guy), and for the following 2 years his adopted parents will be Jerry & Melissa Hanbery. He is still with his girlfriend Michelle who is also off to UCF next August. How convenient! We love Michelle, and she and her family have become a part of ours over these past months. Will spent the first part of the year working for Chick-fil-A in the local mall. He sought new employment after discovering that the "our pleasure" they share with customers turns into "we don't care!" when you are an employee. He got a job as a host at Olive Garden, but spent the summer working both places and taking classes. It's just a shame the boy has no initiative! He's exclusively at the OG now, working 40 hour weeks in only 4 days because according to management, "the place falls apart when Will isn't here!" He's still very much into music and movies. He's also turned himself into a pretty stellar guitar player. And finally, at age 19, we were able to secure a car for him to use (a hand-me-down from my mother) and so he got his license.  It's been a really good year for Will...

Marilyn is also doing well, except for having to work way too much. She continues to serve as an executive assistant to an attorney who is one of the leading authorities on alcohol beverage licensing in the nation. Want to know how busy they are? You know how all of the Red Lobsters were recently sold? They handled all the license transfer and what-not. And there are many more HUGE examples I could share. The alcohol business is booming! In addition to her work, Marilyn finds time to visit Walt Disney World on a fairly regular basis and to keep up with friends and family via Facebook. If you are her friend and you have posted pictures on your feed, chances are good she has seen them. Especially if there are children involved! She loves dinners with friends, going to the movies and the occasional trip over to the beach. And if you want to talk about the goings-on on The Good Wife, she's your girl! Her year hit some rough patches back in the late summer with the death of her father and trying to help her mom through the hard times that followed. Dealing with family trauma from 700 miles away is not easy, but she has done what she can. She and I will be heading up to NC the week after Christmas to spend time with her family. Her bravery in being a practical and organized woman living with two "creatives" cannot be overstated. She is the glue that holds us together.

Conner the Dog continues to be a big part of our family as well. At age 11 he has slowed down a bit, and wakes me up way too early way too often, but we still love him! He spends his days napping, eating Beggin' Strips and anything else he can talk the rest of us into sharing. The dog has his own recliner- I think he's pretty happy with his lot in life!

As for me, life continues to be both a blessing and a roller coaster. My mom's health is not good; she has days when she doesn't get out of bed and she rarely leaves her house. But not unlike her son, she is stubborn and wants to stay there despite our best efforts to move her to Tampa. My health, on the other hand, has been very good. No toe surgery in 2014- I call that a big honkin' WIN! We were blessed and thrilled when my probation was terminated 3 years early on April 1 (no foolin'); we were crushed to discover that my transgression of nearly 8 years ago would prevent me from ever going back to WDW. I did get to cross many bridges with my newfound freedoms however, including spending a week in Myrtle Beach with Marilyn's family and an extended weekend in NC visiting friends, some of them for the first time in years. And I have to say- I have the best friends anyone could ever ask for! They continue to support me through thick and thin and look after me no matter the circumstances. This includes my Twitter family, which continued to grow this year. As you know, I continue to write this blog on a regular basis. I also write for couple of other blogs about once a month. My novel (Even Better Than Before), which I began back in the spring, is nearly complete and should be ready to be shared with the first batch of readers in early 2015. My work as a personal assistant for Lisa Jewett continues, reminding her when to buy groceries, looking at pictures of her grandchildren and answering her very random questions about very random things. She is a great friend to the whole family and very much a part of our lives. All-in-all, life is good. There have been trials and struggles and even a few major disappointments along the way. But God is good. All the time.

It is our prayer that 2015 will bring us more opportunities to spend time with family and friends and to continue to seek to discover what God has in store for us all. We wish for each of you a merry and blessed Christmas season, filled with the love hope, love, joy and peace that the Christ-child came to bring. We love you all!

Because of Jesus,

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