The Colleary Family Christmas Letter

2014 was neither the best of times, nor the worst of times. It was just, well, the times.


  • Nobody contracted ebola
  • Nobody was kidnapped by the FARC in Colombia
  • Nobody gambled away the nest egg
  • Nobody inadvertently married Stephen Collins
  • Nobody crashed Kim Kardashian’s nude booty shoot …
  • Nobody became a horcrux for part of Charlie Sheen’s soul …
  • Nobody had a pinnacle moment.

But, we did get to start the year in Paris where we each did exactly what we wanted.


  • Henry ran off to Verdun to relive World War I.
  • Clare and Bridget accosted the same art store daily so they could sketch all over Paris (sketching cartoon characters, not the city)
  • I shopped at Nina Kendosa and bought tunics to obscure my croissant belly.

Here’s a potpourri from our trip:


Family Christmas Letter
(top, then clockwise) The Champs Elysees at night. Collearys in front of the Arc de Triomphe. Bridget in the rain, Collearys in front of Notre Dame, the girls on the Seine, Clare in the rain.

Family Christmas Letter
(top, left to right, then clockwise) Shannon with the fabulous Andre Demir (a Sean Connery look alike), Henry and me at the Musee d’Orsay, Edgar Degas’ Absinthe 2, me on the Metro, Bridget and Clare on the Rue Mouffetard, the carousel at La Grande Roue, Clare with the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, Bridget at lunch at Laduree.
Family Christmas Letter
(top, left to right, then clockwise) Toulouse Lautrec’s Rousse, dit aussi La Toilette, Bridget’s white cap in the Grande Galerie at the Louvre, Napolean’s apartments at the Louvre, our group in front of Le Monde Arab, the girls on the carousel in front of the Hotel de Ville.
family Christmas letter
(top, left-to-right, clockwise) Clare and Henry at the Jardin du Luxembourg, Manet’s Woman with Fans, the girls in front of the Eiffel Tower and Bridget sketching Bart Simpson on top of the Arc du Triomphe.

From Paris, we came home to the relentless routine that typifies the life of a suburban family.

Where to find the magic in lives that are bent toward earning a living and navigating the chicaneries found in the 5th and 7th grades with their:

  • Algebra 1-2
  • Puberty
  • The Roman antiquities period
  • Puberty
  • The lifespan of the fruit fly
  • Puberty
  • The dissection of a cow eyeball
  • Puberty
  • And puberty?

These are the moments I’ve plucked from obscurity to cherish in 2014:


  • Clare stepping up to the piano to play the Tarantella Fantastica with attack and emotion at her recital, which I’d thought she wasn’t prepared for because I never hear the kid practice. She must stealth practice, because I found myself weeping openly, which embarrassed both of my daughters.
  • Clare getting a “B” in advanced honors math, bringing herself up from a “D” through sheer force of will. We are not mathematicians in this family and I wanted to move her down to simply honors math, but she refused. She went in for tutoring every day at nutrition and lunch, gave up playing fall softball because, she told me, “I have to focus on math this semester.”

I’ve never been so proud of a child for not getting an “A.” She inspires me.


  • Bridget playing Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with a perfect balance of vivacity, moroseness, silliness and freckles and with seemingly no nerves.
  • Then there’s the fact of her singing voice. She tells me she knows she’s “not a good singer,” but worked with a vocal coach to improve and went onstage and sang fearlessly in full voice. That kid kills me.
  • Bridget surprised and delighted me again by deciding not to goalie this year in Girls Under 12 soccer like she’s done the last two years, but to get out on the field as a mid-fielder. Not initially her forte, but she grew exponentially this season and kicked the winning goal to win the championship in the last five seconds in double overtime.
family Christmas letter
(left to right) Halloween, Clare’s recital, Bridget’s team after winning the championship, the girls with their granny.

Henry and I continue to write like madmen.

We have carpal tunnel syndrome and battle fatigue, but get up every morning and face the blank page.

I would brag about us, but I think I’ll just say this, we’ve entered our 14th year of marriage still in love, and in like, and even occasionally in lust, and I’d have to say that’s my proudest accomplishment.

My wish for all of us in 2015, including you, is that we continue to put one foot in front of the other to accomplish our goals; that we stay healthy, curious, compassionate, inspired and that we develop an ability to get back up after a defeat and to try again.

Thanks, my dear readers, for all of your support this year.

When I hear from you that something I’ve written made you laugh, or cry, or just in some way feel better, it makes my day. I hope I can continue to be a happy place for you to visit for many years to come. I leave you with our Christmas photos, which I took myself and which didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped they would.

But we managed to get through them without killing each other or the cats. xoxo S

Colleary Collage

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