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Monday, December 06, 2010

The Christmas Letter

War, Sports and Redemption

A Year in Which Evan Earned 28 Junior Ranger Badges, a Turkey and Salvation

After years of avoiding guns and violence we succumbed to the rat-a-tat call of firearms. Colette figured that if Evan was going to be lured by the images of war, then he should actually learn history as opposed to the intricate political dealings of the galactic senate and the machinations of Chancellor Palpatine. With this goal we marched Evan to Indiana in January to visit the boyhood home of Abraham Lincoln and a memorial to George Rogers Clark, America’s first action hero. Evan earned the first two of his badges on this trip .

The next seven badges came on a trip to New Orleans that included stops at three battlefields and a fort; Shiloh, Vicksburg, Chalmette, and the Arkansas Post. While in the Big Easy,Evan also visited a swamp, ate plenty of beignets and played the washboard.

Having covered the revolutionary war, the Civil War and the War of 1812 ,we decided that Evan should make a foray into more modern warfare, so in April we took him to a World War II reenactment. Evans favorite part was collecting the shell casings scattered throughout the field afterwards. The excitement of this reenactment, coupled with Colette’s NEH grant to study the Kansas Missouri Border Wars, paved the way to Mississippi for a staging of the Civil War Battle of Dover. Evan found himself close to the action when he was “accidentally caught on the southern side” during a skirmish.

Fighting continued to be a part of our lives as Evan witnessed jousts and duels at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival in September and visited Fort Scott in Kansas the next month where he earned yet another Junior Ranger badge. For those of you good with math you have by now noticed that Evan is 18 badges short of our stated goal of 28. That is because I have not mentioned the epic vacation we took through five states in which Evan earned 17 more badges. Though Evan probably wanted to visit a few more forts on this trip, he had fun at Bent’s Old Fort, Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde, Hovenweep, Natural Bridges, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Grand Canyon, Pipe Springs, Cedar Breaks, Great Basin, Canyonlands, Arches, Dinosaur, Colorado Monument and Nicodemus.

When not learning about our illustrious military history or hiking through desert canyons Evan participated in athletic endeavors. He played coach pitch baseball, kicked around in soccer, competed in dive and continued to excel at swimming. He attained personal best times in all four strokes. He also took his first steps into the world of competitive eating, finishing two-and-half hotdogs at the Catsup Festival.

Considering his increased consumption, we decided it was time that Evan started providing for the family, so he was enrolled in fishing classes over the summer. Most of the fish he caught were little more the bite size, but we hope that he will soon be appearing on the Fishing Network. In November Evan surprised us by winning a turkey in the soccer shootout. Because of Evan, we were able to have a happy Thanksgiving.

The fourth Thursday of November was alsothe occasion of Evan’s first communion. He was very excited by it, but when asked if he wanted to go to church with Grandma the next Sunday he said, “I don’t want the bread of life today, maybe next time.”

But it doesn’t add up, you say? We heard about the turkey, the salvation, and 26 badges. Aren’t we owed more badges? Indeed, Evan also earned a badge on Junior Ranger Day at Ulysses S. Grant’s farm home, and he completed the book at the Old Courthouse, part of the Jefferson Expansion Memorial. Evan’s curriculum of war, sports, and redemption will continue in the new year when he plans on taking up basketball and making a sojourn to our Nation’s Capital.

Dan and Colette are still teaching.