Family Christmas Letter 2023

The 2023rd year of our Lord has been good to the Nysetvold family.

Elissa and Elanor, shortly after I gave Elanor her baby blessing

It has sure been wild for Elissa. She gave birth to Elanor Eve Nysetvold in May; a medical scare resulted in her getting induced a few days early, literally the day after Dan and Will’s school let out. Then she decided to have a low-key postpartum recovery homeschool them this year. They’d already gotten well ahead of their public school classes by reading at home and doing Khan Academy math under mom’s supervision, so it was pretty clear they weren’t going to learn much reading, writing, or ‘rithmetic in school next year absent intervention. So Elissa is doing a Charlotte Mason curriculum (includes things like “Pilgrim’s Progress” in 3rd grade), Singapore Math, and participating in some homeschool groups. She’s been putting a ton of work into it, with excellent results. Elissa is also working on her next novel, and may have a draft done next year. And she continues to make sourdough and sew and generally cause domesticity to be established, sometimes despite the best efforts of a recalcitrant, boisterous work force.

Students and staff

Dan (8) helps out with Elanor all the time and is our chief pancake chef. He’s well on his way to being not just pleasant, but genuinely net-useful to have around. His prodigious volume of reading this year included completing “Lord of the Rings.” He continues to progress as a pianist, and has been known to carry the water/snack backpack for the whole family when hiking.

I baptized Dan this year

Will (6) is also helpful and fun to have around; Marie wants to play with him all the time, and he’s now pretty good at dipping chocolates. He learned to kayak this year at Broken Bow, Oklahoma. He’s been reading things like Roald Dahl and the Harry Potter books that aren’t too scary (stalled at the start of book 6, for now). 

The happy warrior

Marie (3) is currently learning to read with me. She’s a fearless hiker, good for 5 miles a day through the wilds of New Mexico if fed enough candy along the way; she recently carried her own clothes, sleeping bag, and water on her first backpacking trip. She loves Elanor; she doesn’t give her baby doll nearly as much attention as last year, because now she has an actual baby to love. 

A relationship dynamic

Elanor (0) is fat and happy, and just starting to eat some solid food and crawl. Once, in a restaurant, she charmed the gentleman at the next table to the point that he told the staff he’d pay our check. 

I get so much attention when I make this face!

I continue to enjoy my work at the Valero Houston Refinery, where I manage the reliability department. It’s a very talent-rich work environment with a nice atmosphere, and I love soaking up knowledge from everybody. It’s been a kind of lopsided year, that started out with a lot of weekends at the plant, then a lot of paternity leave in the summer, then a lot of vacation in the fall. 

Hiking up above Gallup, New Mexico

I’ve been reading a healthy amount, as usual, and have also started listening to audiobooks consistently while driving, in lieu of podcasts. I’ve been on a history kick, filling in gaps in gaps in my map with audiobooks like “The Great Game” by Hopkirk. One of my favorite reads of the year was “Conservatism: A Rediscovery,” by Yoram Hazony, who is excellent in general. I also enjoyed working through the New Testament, with study including the Wayment translation and “Paul: A Biography” by N. T. Wright. 

Some of the words that go in tend to eventually come out again. I published an essay on environmental matters in Public Square Magazine; the clickbait title could have been something about “Latter-day Saints for Geoengineering.” I’ve also kept working on a novel on slow evenings, which has been fun. Last year I said it was at “about 45,000 of 130,000 words, progressing at around 1,000 words a week.” About 53 weeks later, I’ve written about 54,000 more words, so evidently I’m consistent; I’m pretty confident there will be a complete draft this year, though I don’t have a good handle on how long revisions will take.

At church, I’m helping out with administering the youth program for the Pearland Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I also am the Elanor-sleep-whisperer in Sunday School, while Elissa plays the piano for the kids’ singing time.

As we celebrate this Christmas season, we remember our Savior, Jesus Christ. Thanks to his birth, teaching, atonement, and resurrection, we look forward to eternal life together as a family. Merry Christmas!

“In the Stable” by Jorge Cocco

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  1. May the blessings of this sacred season find your home and family. I appreciate the hospitality your family showed me at one of the most difficult times in my life. I miss you guys and are happy that life is good. Both of you are awesome and amazing parents. Again thank you.

  2. Thanks Tom. You are amazing to accomplish everything you do and to be the father and husband many would aspire to. May you and your family have a blessed new year.

  3. Always good to hear from you! I cherish our year’s learning and solving the world of refining problems together! Your family is beautiful and I thank God for his many blessings upon you and yours. Merry Christmas!