After writing our annual Christmas letter for several years and getting some nice comments on it from family and friends, Steve encouraged me to write more frequently than once a year. So at the end of 2006, I started writing a blog.

So this week, I’m returning to my roots and using our Christmas letter as my blog. (Plus, I ran out of energy to come up with another blog topic this week so I took the easy way out.) For anyone who is on our Christmas card list, they can stop reading here. A hard copy is in the mail. Merry Christmas!

Dear Friends,

We hope this letter finds you enjoying a happy, healthy, and not too crazy holiday season.

The school year got off to a great start for Ethan when he moved into an apartment complex next to San Francisco State with two buddies. He loves life as a film production major but not so much that he isn’t looking forward to graduating in the spring. To fill in the gaps in his student loans, he did a repeat performance as a barista at a Starbucks close to Union Square until making Frappuccinos for German tourists started to get in the way of participating in film production gigs that could build his resume on IMDb (that’s a website that is an encyclopedia of movie facts). His already awesome year got even better when he met a cute (I just can’t bring myself to say “hot”) art major who shares his sense of humor and love of movies.

2010 was an intense year for Valerie between finishing up her senior year at high school, the college selection process, and the transition to living away from home. I am proud to say she was one of the top 10 students in her graduating class. After applying to eight colleges, Chapman University in Orange, CA clearly emerged as the best choice for her because of their strong graphic design department and their “we’re serious about wanting you here” scholarship award. Adjusting to college life proved to be a little more difficult than choosing where to go. Without her usual jam-packed schedule, friends, and cats, the first few weeks of dorm life were pretty gloomy for her. However, as she has started to make friendships and gotten plugged into the design department, life in The O.C. is looking a lot sunnier.

The good news for Jennifer in 2010 was that she got to have the bathroom all to herself now that Ethan and Valerie are out of the house. The bad news was that she also got her old parents all to herself. To minimize the effects of this, she has fully embraced the social opportunities available in high school and seems to always have an outing scheduled with some of her classmates or band buddies. Jennifer continues to be an excellent student and faithful volunteer once a week at church shepherding 4-year-olds through Bible verses and craft projects. She also has an entrepreneurial spirit and has raised money for a band trip to Disneyland with her artistic gifts by painting friends tennis shoes and designing greeting cards; this year’s card is a Jennifer original.

If there is a silver lining to the effect the recession has had on our marketing business, it is that Steve has been able to devote time to improving his drawing, cartooning and storyboarding skills which led to some good illustration projects in 2010 and hopefully more in the coming year. I often remind Steve that lots of people can make a computer program work. But with only a pencil, can most of us draw anything except a stick figure? He has a unique gift.

Fall was very busy for me working for a political consultant. Our office produced a lot of the campaign literature that filled mailboxes in a several Bay Area counties leading up to the November election. After that job wound down, I have been for hovering over Craigslist, ready to pounce on any job that comes close to matching my skill set. News Flash! I just accepted a marketing/PR position in town…details to follow. The New Year is off to a great start.

Reviewing our year in the annual Christmas letter always reminds me how much I have to be thankful for now and in the future. I should write one of these more often than once a year!

Blessings to you and your family in 2011.

The Rustads