An Open Holiday Letter

Posted: December 23, 2010 in Family and Friends

Dear World,

2010 has been quite a year for the Sturgeon family, if for no other reason than all four of us are now living under one—small, sometimes leaky—roof. And we are happy.

Erica made the bold decision to become a Californian this year. I flew to Memphis in May (sounds like a festival!), jumped in the driver’s seat of Erica’s loaded-down car, and the two of us traveled the modern interstate-highway version of Route 66, spending a night at the Wigwam Hotel in Nowhere, Arizona, stopping at the Grand Canyon, and listening to a whole lot of the musical stylings of Florence and the Machine. We arrived safely, and her car promptly gave out! So Erica got a new car in 2010. By summer’s end, Erica had obtained her California teaching credential and snagged a job teaching four-year-olds at Calvary Christian School in the swanky Pacific Palisades (to wit, one of her kiddos has Uncle Arnold Schwarzenegger on the “can check the kid out of school” list). Erica has become of a part of the University Church of Christ with us and is especially smitten with the Hung & Corinne Le family. Corinne already has Erica teaching kiddos at church on Sunday mornings.

Hillary has had quite a year, too. After completing the 7th grade with super high grades, she spent a majority of her summer vacation in the South, seeing friends and family in Mississippi and Arkansas. Now, she is off to another terrific start in 8th grade at Malibu High. She has an amazing set of girlfriends at school, all of which are so sweet and so talented. She is once again in the Girls’ Select Choir—and sang a solo in “Hallelujah” in their recent Cabaret performance. She is once again in the Middle School Musical—this time as Mrs. Greer in the upcoming performance of “Annie.” But her biggest event in 2010 came when her crazy parents drove her to LAX, stuck her on a plane by herself to fly to London to spend a week with her good friend, Sarah! There, she hit all the tourist sites, saw a couple of awesome musicals (Les Miserables & Wicked), and sat out all day to see the Harry Potter stars arrive on the red carpet at the World Premiere.

Jody has had a terrific year, too. She continues to love her job, now in her third year working as the Student Services Coordinator at Pepperdine University. She is certain she has the best boss ever in Kimberly Hogan and loves working with college students. Jody surprised herself by not following her own advice when she made the move to Malibu: she had decided that she wouldn’t get close to people here so that it would be easy to move (if we did) after law school. Instead, she has formed deep relationships both at church and in the Pepperdine community. Along with those relationships, Jody has become a fitness nut and continues to amaze us all with her health consciousness. She is a regular at spin classes, and she repeatedly returns to the aptly-named “Insanity” workout. Jody ran two (count ‘em, two!) different 5k races this year—the first to fulfill a promise to herself, and the second during the MLB All-Star Weekend in Anaheim. And most recently, she snagged a couple of tickets to the season finale of her favorite television show—The Biggest Loser! She is looking great, but more importantly, is feeling great, too.

I turned the big 4-0 this year (Jody may or may not have, we’re not sure). Unbelievably, I am within one semester of graduating from law school. In the summer, I had the opportunity to work at the Lanier Law Firm in Houston, Texas—and hang out at Andy & Jennifer Dunham’s house. While in Houston, I caught the fitness bug, too, and started running again. In September, I ran a 5k in Santa Monica, and in December, my first ever 10k in Santa Monica-Venice, surprising myself with a time of 42:06. And 2010 was my best year ever as a baseball spectator: I watched the Cardinals play twice in Dodger Stadium; saw them again at AT&T Park in San Francisco; saw them yet again (three times!) at Minute Maid Park in Houston; got to go on the field and sit in the press box at Angels Stadium thanks to Bobby Ross; and saw two other (non-Cardinal) games at Minute Maid Park, including the mind-boggling “Lanier Law Firm” seats behind home plate.

Here are a few other of my personal “bests” from 2010:
* Best family road trip (tie): San Francisco with Jody & Hillary; Cross-Country with Erica;
* Best novel read: “Hannah Coulter” by Wendell Berry;
* Best non-fiction book read: “Leaving Church” by Barbara Brown Taylor;
* Best song heard: “Dela” by Johnny Clegg & the Soweto Gospel Choir;
* Best family moments: Watching “Psych” together;
* Best sports moments (tie): Razorback football; Saints Super Bowl;
* Best celebrity moment: Asking Emilio Estevez to take a picture with Hillary (& Flat Stanley);
* Best house guest: Connor Hayes’s Thanksgiving visit from Mississippi.

So, what does 2011 have in store? Apparently, a lot.

For starters, I plan to run a marathon. I am now a member of the Los Angeles Running Club, and I have my sights set on the San Diego Rock ‘n Roll Marathon in early June. Jody is toying with the idea of a half-marathon; specifically, the Great Race of Agoura Hills in late March.

But more importantly, we have made the decision to do what we can to stay in the Malibu area following graduation in May (and taking the California bar exam in late July). There are several reasons behind this decision: 1) Jody absolutely loves her job; 2) Erica also enjoys her job and doesn’t (yet) make enough money to strike out on her own in SoCal; 3) Hillary loves her school, her friends, and her youth group—and would love to stay; 4) we are interested in the future of the University Church of Christ and being a part of its developing story; and 5) we have fallen in love with the Malibu Community Labor Exchange and want to be a part of its future, too.

As a result, my Plan A in the job search department is to explore the possibility of working in an administrative capacity at Pepperdine—a search process that has already been initiated to some extent. Plan B is to work as an attorney at a private firm in this geographic area. If we get to Plan C, we’ll figure out what it is then. 🙂

Well, this is kind of a long holiday letter, but I have felt a little guilty what with my drop off in blogging and Facebook and such. I suspect my future in those departments will continue to be sporadic, but I hope not to fall of the face of the earth completely (although we are dangling off a mountain on the edge of the continent here!).

We miss and treasure memories of family and friends from years gone by, and think of you all often. But we continue to form new relationships and, as always, are surrounded with love.

Life is good. And when it is bad, there is hope.

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy/Merry (?) Kwanzaa, and Happy New Year to all!

Peace,
Al

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