2006 Holiday Letter (by Matt Churchill)

January 2007

family 06Dear Friends and Family,

Happy New Year!  I’ve been trying to think of an adequate excuse for the lateness of our season’s greetings, but I’ve concluded that we’re just getting old and lazy.  After all, Suzanne and I turned 40 this year so you’ll have to cut us some slack.

One of the benefits of turning 40 is that you feel justified in taking a big trip to celebrate your agedness.  So last January Suzanne decided to surprise me with a long weekend trip to London.  On the airport shuttle bus we agreed that these were the most extravagant weekend plans we’d ever made.  Ah, but the best laid plans …

It turns out that to get to London you need to show up for your plane on time, which is difficult when you (or should I say one female member of your family who shall remain nameless) print out the wrong itinerary for a later flight.  So after missing our flight by a mere 2 hours and spending a long evening fruitlessly negotiating for alternate flights, we settled for a good Indian food meal in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the Woody Allen movie “Match Point” (which on the plus side featured stunning views of downtown London and Scarlett Johansson).

We also managed to assuage our losses with an October getaway weekend to New York on one of those glorious Indian summer weekends where the City sparkles under cloudless skies and you walk dreamily through Central Park thinking, “It could really be fun to live here.”  Then you remember that you have kids.  So let me fill you in on them.

Zachary has started kindergarten where, I was recently told by the mother of one of his female classmates, he is “the second most popular boy in his class.”  Now I was a little annoyed that Zac wasn’t numero uno until I heard that “Mr. Popularity” has a bit of a potty mouth.  Those bad boys always woo the ladies.  At age 5, Zac still loves Darth Vader, trucks, and Duke basketball.  Although he slavishly admires his older brothers, he can’t wait for them to go to college, “Because then I get all their stuff!”

Luke, now 10, enjoys piano, diavalo juggling, nerf dart guns (really, weapons of any kind), water play and basketball.  But he’s turned reading into his most competitive sport.  They have a program at Davidson Elementary where you earn points (and receive class prizes) by taking comprehension quizzes on books you’ve finished.  Luke became a mini-hero in his classroom last fall as he single-handedly accumulated 310.5 of the 1,000 points his class needed for a pizza party. (He also tried, less successfully, to claim the same percentage of the pizza.)

Thomas, also 10, continues to have a competitive spirit that he exercises through soccer, the Davidson Elementary Quiz Bowl team, and as many games of Risk as he can rope people into playing. Perhaps inspired by this game (or a cartoon he’d read), Thomas recently honored me with the following Haiku:

Status report is:

Me:  Total domination

You: Blah blah, who cares

The Royal Shakespeare Company is coming to Davidson College this February, and Thomas managed to get the part of Mamillius in their production of “A Winter’s Tale.” One of the casting directors explained in a local press release that, “The RSC was looking for young boys who possess an innate vulnerability and fragility and who are witty and charming.”  I’m really thankful that, just when you think that all of your parental efforts to raise fragile and vulnerable children will go unnoticed, the RSC arrives to give you the affirmation you need!

This year we also added the first furry pets to our family.  Fergus, Thomas’ supposedly indoor cat, is an accomplished escape artist and wily fugitive who precipitates numerous frantic and exhausting pursuit-and-capture missions by the neighborhood children.  Our other pets, Luke’s lovable dwarf hamsters Ginger and Marianne, recently made their final journey to the Great Gilligan’s Island in the sky.  Suzanne held a touching funeral service for the little guys where Luke gently memorialized their best attributes and Zac, fists balled into his eyes, choked out, “They … were … always… very … soft …. But Luke never let me hold them!” (mass hysterics).

When not officiating at funerals or planning travel adventures, Suzanne published her first book, “The Little Magazine Others and the Renovation of Modern American Poetry” (catchy title, huh?).  Amazon.com’s listing highlights some intriguing key phrases for an academic volume, including “ineffectual marriage” (clearly it’s not autobiographical) and “seismic orgasm” (or is it?). Despite the provocative search terms, the book has not dented the New York Times best sellers’ list to date, but we’re hopeful that her follow-up effort, “Dinosaurs Drive Fire Trucks” (to be coauthored with Zac) will allow me to retire.

I continue to work away as a corporate lawyer in Charlotte, and I’m trying to get more involved in the local community through work on the Davidson Housing Coalition and through assistant coaching my sons’ basketball team (Coach K better watch out!).

We’re slowly tempting our family closer with the promise of warm winter weather (note that the above picture was taken on a balmy day in December). Suzanne’s parents began what we hope is an annual winter sojourn to Davidson last winter for two months and my Dad and Stepmom have moved to the Triangle area for 8 months of the year.  We hope that many more of you will visit us in Davidson and that you find health and happiness in the New Year.

Lots of love,

Matt, Suzanne, Thomas, Luke and Zachary

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