Monday, December 10, 2018

The Annual Reese Family Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas and happy holidays from the Reese family! I’m assuming 2018 has been exactly the same for you and your family as it has for us. Of course I’m referring to the fact that Despacito has been playing EVERY SINGLE TIME you have turned on the radio all year.

Aside from the unwelcome assault on our family from Despacito, here is a summary of 2018:

Kylee is in ninth grade. Her artistic talents have increased exponentially over the past year. She creates stunningly beautiful art and paintings. She is like a female Bob Ross. (Minus the dreamy bushy hairdo.) She is also a budding photographer, and is part of the middle school yearbook staff. Ky is attentive to details, compassionate, and a hard worker. These attributes have made her a coveted babysitter in the neighborhood, and she is quietly amassing a financial empire. In September, she came to Ohio with me and Mel when I ran the Donut Trail 100 miler. Since this was a solo run, she designed my own unique belt buckle to award me when I finished. Whenever I’ve had a rough day and need the soothing of a gas station fountain drink, Kylee is always willing to join me.

Danica is in tenth grade, and this is her first year at the high school. To the best of my knowledge, she hasn’t been stuffed into any lockers. (Yet.) She is on the high school swim team and lives at the pool. I swear the kid has gills. She has competed in swim meets all across southern Utah and finished in first place in many of the events she raced. Dani recently completed her Driver’s Education training. She has become experienced at driving around the church parking lot. We’ll now be transitioning to city streets. Pray for me and Mel. A few months ago we took her to a big checkup at Primary Children’s Hospital to follow up on her rheumatic fever from years ago. Thankfully the cardiologist gave her heart a grade of A+. Her highlight was seeing the Michael Jackson Cirque du Soleil show in Vegas.

Jackson is a senior in high school. He remains the piano player in the school Jazz Band and plays Billy Joel songs so beautifully that it could make you cry. This year the band even went to Holy Land of churros and long lines. That’s right: Disneyland. Jackson is like Rain Man when it comes to sports trivia. We’ve gone to three Utah Jazz games this year. Typically our seats are so high that they include a complementary bottle of oxygen. Jackson loves to play racquetball, pickle ball, and tennis. He was on the high school tennis team again this year, and relishes every time I go play with him. These outings usually result in me getting mouthy, then telling him I’m going to destroy him, then making bets, then losing bets, then owing him money. In September he ranked #1 for the Top 10 Most Active People for the month at the local gym.

Melanie got a new job this year that she loves. She works as a nurse practitioner seeing patients in rehab and assisted living facilities. She is so smart, and is so good at what she does. She is personable, caring, and her patients love her. Earlier in the year she went to a U2 concert with Jackson. We saw the play Hamilton. (Aaaamazing.) She has been doing a lot of running, including running the Baker’s Dozen Half Marathon this month. She has a big goal to run 100 miles at a race coming up in February. We celebrated our 20 year wedding anniversary with an epic trip to Banff, Canada. While there, we hiked some of the most beautiful trails on the planet, laughed until it hurt, and exceeded the Surgeon General’s recommendation on human pizza consumption.

I continue working as a medical social worker. I released my second book called “Into The Furnace” about Badwater, the 135 mile race across Death Valley. I also managed to run five 100 milers, including the legendary Western States 100 where I finished a comfortable (cough, cough) four minutes before the cutoff. I’m still a columnist for UltraRunning Magazine which I love. I got some bad news a few months ago with the diagnosis of Common Variable Immunodeficiency Disorder. (Say that ten times fast!) Basically my immune system works as poorly as a “Close Door” button in an elevator. This also resulted in one of my crappiest days of the year. That’s right. I’m now a member of the Colonoscopy Club. Soon I’ll be starting weekly plasma infusions which will continue for the rest of my life. I don’t plan on letting this slow me down. (At least any slower than I already am.)

Our Great Dane, Little Debbie, and our poodle, Aunt Jackie continue to rain down destruction and chaos in our house. Debbie chewed a hole in our wall, just because she was bored. She stole my rack of ribs off the table when I turned my head. They slobber. They wake us up early. They eat Mel’s ear plugs. If we have running clothes on, they won’t let us walk out the door without them. We mostly still love them.

We’ve always tried to place priority on experiences instead of things. Instead of buying stuff, we want to buy memories. We want to live for the moments you can’t put into words. This year, we’ve had some pretty awesome family adventures.

In February we all ran the 48 hour Jackpot Ultra Running Festival. The course is a 2 mile loop and you basically run as many miles as you can within 48 hours. In the end, I finished the race with 130 miles, Mel finished with 52.5, Jackson finished with 65, Dani finished with 40, and Kylee finished with 50 miles. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so proud of them for their hard work and perseverance. What they each accomplished is truly remarkable. I hope this is an experience they will carry with them for the rest of their lives, and fall back on it when times get tough. I hope it reminds them how strong they are, and that they can do anything they put their minds to.

In March, we saw one of our favorite musicians Mat Kearney in concert. In April, we went on a California Coast cruise, checking out San Francisco, Alcatraz, San Diego, Ensenada, and Monterey. Our time together walking through the redwoods of Muir Woods is a moment I’ll never forget. I decided to be adventurous (“adventurous” is just another word for “foolish”) and ran a 100 miler on the deck of a cruise ship which took 1,600 loops and almost 28 hours to complete. That helped justify all the soft serve ice cream I ate.

In May, we enjoyed an amazing road trip to Capitol Reef National Park. We continued our 4th of July tradition of inviting the whole extended family over to our house to watch fireworks from our front lawn while eating ice cream sandwiches. The past few years we’ve brought a huge speaker out to the porch to blast music during the fireworks. This year’s musical selections included “Party In The USA”, then “Thunderstruck”, then Neil Diamond’s “Coming To America” on repeat over and over again. Because nothing screams patriotism more than fireworks, ice cream sandwiches, and Neil Diamond on repeat. In September, we made a spontaneous decision to jump in the car, drive to Los Angeles, and go to a NeedToBreathe concert.

The greatest experience of the year was probably a few weeks ago when we took the kids bowling. We found out that $10 will buy 17 songs on the bowling alley juke box. So we bought 11 plays in a row of Toto’s song “Africa”. Then, just for the fun of it, one play of “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton. Then 5 more Africas. After 8 Africas, an employee pushed something on the machine and skipped Africa. Then they skipped Africa again. They must have thought they fixed the juke box glitch when the sweet sound of Dolly Parton filled the air. Much to everyone’s chagrin, Dolly was immediately followed by the rhythmic drum beats of Africa. This earned a prompt skip from the employee. Then another skip. Then another skip. And we decided that this was the best $10 we’ve spent in a long, long time. I will NEVER hear the song “Africa” again without thinking of bowling with my family. We are thankful for the love and support from you, our amazing friends and family. May you slip a $10 bill into every juke box you come across in 2019!

Love, Cory, Mel, Jackson, Dani, and Kylee