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2017-2023 Christmas Cards

"Nobody said modern-day life had to be busy or stressful. The pace you go is up to you." - Charlotte Preval-Reed

Merry Christmas to my beloved Muir Rock Family!


Perhaps some of you are still out celebrating and are reading this on your phone while you're out. If you had the evening to yourself like I did, that's fine too. I had a relaxing and fun Christmas weekend and am so thankful to spend time here before the work week starts up to share about some of it. Hopefully you're all a bit relieved from the busyness and stress that usually comes with this season.


On Sunday, I took Mayo to the 10AM service at Mariners North Irvine. It was a beautiful service and was reminded of how thankful I am to be a part of this community:


Since I couldn't take advantage of the free donuts, I did the second best thing, I used the free photo booths:

I posted the second photo in our family chat. My sister said that its not too late to go to Walgreens (like my aunt did) and get these printed out. I think it is? Anyways, I still got a hard copy for myself to put on my Christmas card wall.


Speaking of cards this year.... here is the front of the Christmas card I made a few weeks ago using Teri's Shutterfly account (I didn't want to make my own), but never got the chance to finish, print and send out:

You can blame Teri for this year :) She was fantastic at not waiting until the last minute to get our cards done. Or you can blame this blog, since I can always post things here.


Here's where I took the photos (all in 2023):

  1. April - White Chapel Memorial Gardens (Teri's final resting place)

  2. July - Carlsbad State Beach

  3. October - The house (Mayo dressing up for Halloween as Mustard)

  4. November - Hanging Gardens Trail

  5. December - Mariner's Church North Irvine (Stonegate Elementary School)

  6. November - Horseshoe Bend


While I wish Teri was in all the photos above with me, I'm still so thankful for all the great memories. Thank you again to those that sent me a card in the mail! As I look back, I found myself thinking about the stories and memories associated with every Christmas card we've managed to send — and even those we couldn't — since Teri and I became a couple.


2017

Here's our first card! I am so glad I could find a photo of it. I could never understand why some choose to make photos in black and white like Teri did. It still looked pretty good (I guess I just answered my question):

2017 was an amazing year! I met Teri, got engaged, I gained 17 pounds, and then celebrated the holidays together in Atlanta and California.


2018

Looks like we skipped making cards in 2018. I didn't really see anything in our emails that even talked about Christmas cards. I wonder why? Most likely we had too much going on. We were trying to figure out our wedding plans.


2019

2019 was an amazing and challenging year for us because of all the wedding planning. We still finished strong with getting married and then went to Santa Barbara for our mini moon and then Maui for our honeymoon. After perusing Teri's Shutterfly account, I never knew that Teri made this card for our wedding that also never made it to print:


We ended up sending out Christmas cards with our thank you cards. It was a great idea to kill two birds with one stone, but I remember being stressed out trying to get everything done before Christmas. Here is a photo of each side of our Christmas card:

I miss Teri. and Maui.

2020

2020 (the year of Covid) was our most difficult year by far as a couple. For Q4 of 2020, Teri was in Atlanta and I was in California. Even with being separated, she was open to making Christmas cards. I wasn't really into the idea since I felt like we had other things to work on besides make cards. Here's what she wrote to me via email:

From: Teri Hoang  Date: Fri, Nov 6, 2020 at 6:43 AM Subject: Holiday cards To: Erwin Edillon Let me know if you still want to do holiday cards together this year. We can be transparent as we like with our current situation. So, my idea for holiday card is the following. Card: (Weirdest year) <link to the card template that doesn't exist anymore> Photo:  We can take separate photos with masks on with our doggies in our respective cities with some California / Georgia gear/stuff around us. So it'll be two pictures, we're not together. Or, one of us fly out to the other and take a photo together. It's getting close to crunch time though. Message (draft): Yeah, weird year. Terwins would like to forget 2020. But, we won't. Our first year of marriage was a real growth experience for us both, to say the least. What did we learn this year? Empathy. Oh, and the whole covid-19 thing, and the election thing happened. Yeah, just a really weird year. But, I imagine it's the same for us all! Here's hoping your year is as weird as you can handle. And if not, it's ok. 2021 is coming soon. Happy Holidays! - Tram "Teri" Hoang (emphasis added)

How did I respond? Of course I was focused on what I know best when it comes to Christmas cards...the mail merge:

From: Erwin Edillon Date: Fri, Nov 6, 2020 at 7:19 AM Subject: Re: Holiday cards To: Teri Hoang Hi, I’m open to the idea, it may be a challenge to see each other for the picture. Or we can use a picture from earlier this year. I don’t really have a strong preference. using mail merge to make the labels would save some time.

I have a unique fondness for using mail merge (I know some of you reading can relate). Reflecting on last week's company holiday party at Orora, where we had printed name tags, I asked the administrative assistant about whether she utilized the mail merge feature to make them. Surprisingly, she hadn't. This revelation momentarily made me question my own effectiveness at work, giving me the urge to educate her on the matter. However, everyone seemed to be having fun at the party so I decided to postpone this discussion and made a note to show her later.

Back to the email. I remember at the time of writing this email how ridiculous I thought Teri's idea was. It was also a lot of work to coordinate making a card. At same time, I was thankful she was open to creating cards together in the first place. After a few more emails, it seemed like we just forgot about it.


Looking back, I'm encouraged by Teri's commitment to transparency, one of our "core values" we agreed upon as a couple. Transparency was always important to her and Teri was never shy of sharing with friends, family, and our counselor about our challenges. She knew it was healthy when people were honest with what was going on and even found it to be a problem when she would see couples that just seemed to have it all together on the outside.


2021

I was a bit surprised that we did not send out cards this year. 2021 was a pretty good year for us overall. It was the year we moved to Irvine and spent most of the year just trying to settle in.


2022

2022 was a great year for us! Although we lost our dog Mustard, we embraced adopting Mayo a few days later from my dad. We started making plans to start a family and built a cute website (although no longer accessible) to share about our journey.


2023

Thank you for making it to the end of this post, here's the other half of the 2023 card that never made to print. I kept going back and forth about what to put in the message and what photos to use. Should I just focus on Christmas and the holidays like most other cards? Should I write about Teri even though it has been over eight months since she passed away? I was not sure and then did what I tell everyone not to do, I got busy with work and ran out of time.


This process also reminded me of the celebration of life service and was not sure about what to do about the slideshow, so I ended up getting help and chose to focus on Israel and it all worked out. I did something similar for the back of the Christmas card and used photos from Israel. I also ended up paraphrasing some of my earlier posts from the blog, along with using Teri's favorite bible verse at the top:


Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. - Joshua 1:9 On April 2 2023, my beautiful wife Teri Edillon left this earth to be with her heavenly father. I am especially grateful for our time together in Israel. My heart feels thankful that she is in a new body, free from any disease and pain. I will see her again. My heart feels heavy because this happened too quickly. I still think of her every single day. I miss her so much. As this festive season arrives, it reminds me of the journey we've all shared this year. A path of remembering, resilience, and finding light in moments of darkness. May this Christmas season be a reminder to us all to never be silenced, to define our own paths, and to hold onto the love that forever binds us. Let's embrace this time with gratitude, love, and the hope for a brighter tomorrow.

I guess the body of the card is also the conclusion to this post. I do want to write more about all the Christmas celebrations and presents I received, but perhaps I'll save that for later. No need to stress about it for now since its getting late for bed and I slept really late last night. The pace I go is up to me.


As usual, thank you for reading and Merry Christmas!


Blessings,

Erwin



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Merry Christmas, brutha!! Also so encouraged by Teri's willingness to be transparent. So encouraged by you this year. Not the circumstances anyone would have chosen, but your determination to walk through this valley in a way honoring to the Lord and exemplary of trusting in Him has led me to praise the Lord for His faithfulness many times. May the Lord continue to bless and heal and strengthen you in the coming year. And, lol, mail merge 😹😹😹

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Jenny Scott
Jenny Scott
Dec 29, 2023

I love your Christmas card so much, Erwin! Teri would’ve loved it and I love how you made it an Israel trip card, which is where Christmas started in the first place. Thanks for sharing. I love stories about Teri. I love her transparency and honest heart as well. I love how she was so fun, so crafty, so creative, and made you look so good and put together. I miss her. I am so happy you enjoyed Christmas and can’t wait to make some more fun LG memories with you this New Year! Love you brother

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Tiffany Wong
Tiffany Wong
Dec 27, 2023

beautiful cards! Teri truly was wonderful at creating beautiful things from your memories!


And Mail Merge is the best thing ever. I think I learned how to do it in some high school computer class. You can mail merge into avery design and print to make address labels directly from google spreadsheets. Everyone should learn how to mail merge.

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Gretchen Lai
Gretchen Lai
Dec 26, 2023

Thanks for sharing your card! As you know, we love Christmas cards and hopefully will post your new one next year! Someone at church mentioned they lost their label file last year and had to start over. When I asked if she had done a mail merge, I was horrified when she said she painstakingly added addresses one by one into a label template on a Word document. At that point you might as well handwrite them! Lol in any case, enjoy your time off, and we will see you soon!

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Merry Christmas, Erwin! Thank you for sharing your card(s). You did better than me— I didn’t even make a draft card for this year. Eva scolded me earlier. Hopefully we‘ll exchange Christmas cards in 2024.

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