The Huffman Family Christmas Letter 2016
Dear Family and Friends-
Instead of sending individual Christmas cards or Christmas letters, like we have in the past, we have just been overwhelmed and enveloped by the emotions this Christmas season has brought us.
It essentially sums up our past 18 months- being overwhelmed.
While many Christmas letters highlight all of the good that happens in a family and extended family, our 2016 sucked from the first hour on New Years Day.
It was less than an hour into New Year’s, when we knew all that we had faced with Avery’s fight against brain cancer, against DIPG, was beginning to get much, much worse.
After a trying January which included two brain surgeries and five weeks of hospice, the calendar turned to February, and on the 16th day of February, 2016, our beautiful daughter, Avery Hayden Huffman, took her final breath on this earth, at 11:11 a.m., and left us to join Christ in heaven.
Oh, how we miss her.
And that just about made 2016 a blur.
While many Christmas letters also say ‘the year flew by’, there were very few moments we have felt anything fly by.
It has been a slow, long year. We ache and have heavy hearts and are saddened that Avery is no longer here on earth with us. That she can’t be a normal second-grader. That she couldn’t sit on Santa’s lap, keep asking us when Christmas Day would be here, when she could get her Advent calendar chocolate and if she could PLEASE just unwrap ONE present early.
Instead, we try to manage each day of the Christmas season, knowing we need to make things as normal as possible for Alex, Cade and Addison, even for ourselves, but knowing there is no such thing as “normal” anymore.
Our “Christmas card” is this picture, each of Avery’s siblings with our Avery dahlia, bloomed from a hybrid dahlia given at Avery’s Celebration of Life Service. There are both of us parents, with a picture and a sign of our little girl. And each of our wrists, where we still wear our AveryStrong wristbands, and will forever, to always remember and talk about our hero. It includes Avery’s bunny, Hoppy Jumpy, our family dog Coco and our newest animal addition, Jack, which we got on what would have been Avery’s 8th birthday this year. Each animal is a part of our family, a part of Aves’ legacy in some way.
If you’re reading this letter, you pretty much know what we have been through. You know what Avery went through. You know of her fight, of her bravery, of her grace.
Instead of making the rest of this letter about us and what our year has been like, we want to make it about you.
Our family and our friends are some of the biggest reasons we’ve been able to somehow manage the past 10 months, the past 18 months.
So thank you.
Thank you to each and everyone of you, for your unending support, love, encouragement and strength you have provided for our family.
We have so many thank you cards we would need to write and send. From meals, to gifts, to donations. We would be writing for months.
In fact, our one request for this Christmas, in all sincerity, is grace in writing thank-you’s. If you gave something, ANYTHING, to us, please, know, we are eternally grateful and thankful. So please cut us a some slack and let this letter serve as an official thank you card. It saves a stamp and some stationary, but by no means, does it undersell just how appreciative we all are, for EVERYTHING that people have done for us. (Thanks in advance!!)
We are so, so thankful. We will always be grateful. Letters and cards couldn’t do us justice anyway.
Our 2016 was awful. Horrible. No good. Very bad.
But the support and love was amazing. Incredible. So good. Very great.
For that, we are thankful.
We miss our Avery more than words can describe. We know our friends and family, HER friends and family, miss her terribly too.
The hole and emptiness will never be filled.
But our hearts are warmed by the love and support from so many people.
We are so grateful for the support of the Avery Huffman Defeat DIPG Foundation and the so many that have continued to fight with us and for Avery, while honoring her legacy and her life.
With that, we thank you.
As I wrote a few weeks ago, while we continue to grieve Avery’s loss and miss her, we take comfort and solace in knowing that Avery is celebrating Christmas with Christ. What an incredible way to spend her first Christmas away from her mom and dad and brother and sisters and from her friends and family.
With Christ. THE REASON we celebrate this Christmas season.
So as you celebrate this Christmas, with your friends and family, love a little more, hug a little tighter, celebrate a little more meaningfully. When your kids wake you up at o’dark thirty to unwrap presents or you’re refereeing a fight over the newest toy, smile, nod, laugh and embrace every second of it.
But most importantly, remember the biggest thing this Christmas season- the birth of Christ. And the promises that His birth, life, death and resurrection brings us. That we’ll one day be with Him. Avery is with Him as we speak, celebrating. What a celebration it will be when we’re with her and with Him.
Merry Christmas from the Huffman Family.
-Brandon, Amanda, Alexandra, Cade, Addison and Forever, Avery.