I can hardly believe it, but this year marks the 20th Hartman family Christmas.
1994 – Hanna was 6 years old; Phil and I had been married just over a month. Because my brother John and his family were unable to attend the wedding, the three of us flew to Phoenix on Christmas Day right after celebrating with Phil’s family.
1995 – In April we moved across the circle drive to our current house. Laura was born on Thanksgiving Day and baptized on Christmas Eve. Somehow we missed getting a full family picture, but did get this adorable shot of Hanna with her new baby sister.
1996 – Phil moved from Health Industry Data Institute to Capital Region Medical Center. Laura, now a year old, cried when held by anyone but Mommy. Our stained glass window was newly installed – we had not even had time to paint the frame yet. On Christmas Eve I asked Phil to open a special gift from his Christmas stocking. He guessed that the package contained a ballpoint pen. Ummm, no.
1997 – Phil’s Christmas gift last year was not a ballpoint pen, but a positive pregnancy test. This picture was taken on Laura’s second birthday, when Joseph was just three months old. In our new parent stupor we neglected to take any Christmas photos at all, but I managed to write my favorite Christmas letter ever.
1998 – The year of the infamous pith helmet. Phil insists that I told him I wanted one. I think he dreamed it.
1999 – These pictures were taken when we decorated the Christmas tree. Christmas Eve Phil, Laura, Joey and I came down with an intestinal bug. Eleven-year-old Hanna did her best to take care of the rest of us while Phil and I took turns napping and comforting the little ones. During one of my shifts I had Laura on one knee and Joey on the other, when both of them started puking. Phil staggered in, took one look at us, muttered, “I can’t help you,” and left me there. True story.
2000 – At last we regained our wits enough to remember a family picture. Joseph was 3, Laura 5 and Hanna 12. I no longer wore glasses thanks to LASIK surgery earlier in the year. Kitty joined the family.
2001 – The kids were growing fast. Hanna was in 8th grade and Laura in kindergarten at Trinity.
2002 – Hanna started high school. Phil had a week left at Capital Region Medical Center before moving to Jefferson City Medical Group.
2003 – Joseph joined Laura at Trinity Lutheran. Concordia Publishing House printed my first story in the December issue of Happy Times.
2004 – The kids grew so fast. Hanna was 16, Laura 9 and Joseph 7.
2005 – A few days after Christmas, we adopted Daisy. Laura cried with joy when we brought her home. Earlier in the year, my first Arch Book®, Mary Magdalene’s Easter Story, was published.
2006 – The pets were camera shy this year, Hanna graduated from Helias High School, Laura started playing basketball and I wrote another Arch Book®, The Ten Plagues.
2007 – Daisy joined us for the Christmas picture but didn’t understand about facing the camera. This was the last year we cut a tree because I was diagnosed with a cedar allergy the following spring. My first Christmas Arch Book®, When Jesus Was Born, was published. Phil was promoted to CIO at JCMG and completed a MBA program through William Woods University.
2008 – We didn’t all fit on the sofa any more, but at least both pets showed up for the picture. In June I suffered damage to my left facial and hearing nerves during a microvascular decompression surgery; that began a year of loss that continued when Phil’s father passed away in October.
2009 – Sadly, Phil’s brother Tony was killed in a car accident in March and my dad passed away in May. But despite my neurosurgeon’s pessimistic predictions, I regained 85% of the hearing in my left ear and my facial paresis began to improve. Phil was well into his carpentry hobby and built this armoire for my Christmas gift. And Daisy faced the camera!
2010 – Hanna graduated magna cum laude from Truman State University with a degree in history and a minor in philosophy and religion. Laura graduated with third honors from Trinity Lutheran School. Joseph got taller than both of his sisters.
2011 – Hanna accepted a placement as an English teacher at Hanoi University of Science and Technology through Lutheran Church Missouri Synod World Mission. She was able to come home during the summer and the rest of us flew to Vietnam visit her for Christmas. The Ten Plagues was released as an iPad app.
2012 – Joseph graduated from Trinity Lutheran. Hanna returned home after 18 months in Vietnam and started working for JCMG and the Missouri Department of Conservation. Laura established herself as a top student at Helias, played basketball and ran track.
2013 – Phil left JCMG and is now working for IRG Inc., a technology consulting group. He is scoutmaster for Troop 8. I have a second Christmas Arch Book® out, The Christmas Angels. In January I will join the adjunct faculty at Central Methodist University’s Columbia campus, teaching two sections of basic macroeconomics. Hanna was accepted into the LEAPs Program at Valparaiso University, a two-year in-service master of education program. Over the summer she attended intensive coursework on the Valpo campus; during the academic year she is teaching second grade at Grace Christian Academy in Chicago. Laura is in her senior year at Helias High School. She remains at the top of her class and chose to drop school basketball in favor of a Parks & Rec team, freeing time to take an after-school job as tutor to two Trinity students. She attended Missouri Girls State over the summer; both she and Joseph attended the National Lutheran Youth Gathering. Joseph has moved to the main Jefferson City High School campus. He is working on his Eagle Scout project and joined an Explorer Post through the police department. Daisy and Kitty are still with us and we have semi-adopted Moses, the neighborhood cat.
Happy Christmas and a Blessed 2014
Phil, Sara, Hanna, Laura & Joseph Hartman