Friday, December 28, 2007

Days of Obligation

This year the pre-Christmas planning season got away from me before I could 1. compose our family Christmas letter, and 2. send it out. I thought I was on my way when we had our photos done in September. I congratulated myself and took a three-month nap. Then Christmas arrived and I couldn't find enough stamps around the house before Christmas Day came and went. Old Calendarist friends don't expect Nativity letters...which is unfortunate because this letter would be on time.

So here's a belated Christmas letter to those to whom it was and never will be sent:


Christmas 2007
Greetings from the Mancusos !

We hope that this letter finds all of you, and those you love, healthy and happy.

Our family is always busy with work, church, homeschooling, and all of the social obligations that those things require. It’s hard to keep up with all of them so I must apologize, as this letter comes a little late.

This year Mark celebrated his 7th anniversary as a priest, and received an award during a clergy conference in Atlanta last month. He works harder and harder every year as a priest and as the head of our town's library, as both our little church and our town grow and expand.

In May of this year I attended a week-long icon-painting seminar in which we learned how to use egg temperas to paint icons in the Byzantine style. There were no children (or husbands), and the class was held at a retreat center in the South Carolina mountains. I don’t need to say I enjoyed every minute of it—but I think I will anyway. It was wonderful.

I also accompanied Rose and Margaret to Las Vegas in June to film a television-pilot which was written and directed by Rose’s 14 year-old friend, Zoe. In 2006 they playfully produced a funny little home-movie called "Hotel Elevator." When this was shown to an old high school friend (also a independent film-maker), he decided he wanted to fund a whole new project for the girls. Initially it was based on Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women with a modern, comedic twist. But the final project took on a life of its own and didn’t resemble the book at all. It was a lot of fun for the girls, and was, if nothing else, an educational experience. Hopefully they learned that they don’t want to grow up to be actresses.

Rose, besides going to Las Vegas, drove up to Niagara Falls in August with Mark’s mother and step-father. She is their favorite traveling companion, so she often goes on vacations with them.

In addition to Niagara Falls Rose went on three-week tour of England, Wales, and Ireland with my parents and my Aunt Margaret and Uncle Ned. The four of them were planning a trip to the UK in 2007. When my aunt suggested that they take Rose along, we couldn’t believe it. As it turned out, they graciously included her in all their plans and travels. I wish I could tell you some of the exciting and funny stories of Rose’s trip, but she hasn’t stopped telling them to me yet, so we all might have to wait till 2008!

I am officially homeschooling four children this year. Rose just started her freshman year, so I am often focused on her. Mark designed her honors world literature course which includes many books that most students don’t read until college. Ella and Margaret are doing remarkably well in school. Ella is in 2nd grade and still loves math. She’s a great reader. She loves to read about space and Egyptians. Margaret is in 1st and is reading very well. Max is in K-4, and loves to dismantle his toys. I’m sure there’s a future profession in that somewhere!

It has been a challenge to my sanity and my religion to keep all five of the children doing what they’re supposed to do and (especially in Little Mark’s case) keep them from doing what they’re not supposed to do. We have chosen a less formal approach with the younger children, so that they can play and learn together. We have a lot of fun.

We hope that you have a blessed Christmas and a very happy new year!

The Mancuso Family