Merry Christmas from the Tierneys

by | Dec 23, 2023 | Blog, Christmas | 2 comments

Dear Family and Friends,

Here we go on Christmas letters again. Let’s see if we’ve still got it! We were all working on getting our bearings again in 2023, and settling back into the comfortable normalcy of being just bonkers busy all the time. 

Lulu, Midge, and George joined Gus, Anita, and Frankie at Saint Monica Academy, so, basically, we are taking that place over. There’s a Tierney in every odd grade from 1st to 11th. The kids love it and are getting an excellent education, but Mom suspects it’s exactly as much school work for her as when they were homeschooled, except now she does it while trying to make dinner. And there’s more driving. And, like, ninety more birthday parties. So, we’ll see what next year brings on the schooling front. For now, we are focused on how grateful we are for the SMA community, and all the help with rides and the last-minute texting of spelling lists, without which we would have drowned long ago.

We visited Chicago over the summer to celebrate Gramma & Papa’s fiftieth anniversary, and will head down to San Diego later this month to celebrate the same for Nana & Grandad. What a blessing to our family to have such beautiful examples of the sacrament of marriage!

We took a road trip to visit Catholic sites and National Parks in Arizona and New Mexico . . . in July. The local meteorologist was hanging out at our hotel pool in Tucson wielding his infrared thermometer and reporting a record high temperature of 112 degrees F. But, you know, it was a dry heat. That was followed by an eerie pinky-orange thunder-sandstorm that chased everyone inside. The trip was really amazing. Two thumbs up for the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Montezuma Castle National Monument, all the historic churches in Santa Fe (and the miraculous staircase!), the Benedictine Monastery of Christ in the Desert, and Mission San Xavier del Bac.

Our “camping” Thanksgiving this year was at an Airbnb in Temecula, CA. We had all ten Tierney kids, plus Dosé extended family. We ate turkey, swam in the pool, dressed up for a western saloon-themed murder mystery party, had these photos taken by the very sweet and talented Cher of Cher Marie Photography, and managed to keep Barbara from “kid”-napping the baby goats (you get it). 

Kendra is happy and sad and grateful and heartsick and swamped and lackadaisical all at the same time, always. 2023 has been trying to find her footing, failing, and going again. She is acutely conscious of how lucky she is to be surrounded by her truly and deeply wonderful children, her generous and self-sacrificing parents and in-laws, her amazing community of friends at CTK, SMA, and CAY, and the worldwide network of people who loved Jim. Professionally, this year was mostly speaking engagements and video projects. She gave a talk at the Napa Conference, appeared on the Lila Rose podcast, and the whole family filmed four more episodes of Catholic All Year at Home for FORMED. She’s got four episodes of Ascension Presents that will air in the spring. She hopes to get back to any number of unfinished book manuscripts . . . someday.

Jack (21) is a senior at USC in aerospace engineering, but is going to go ahead and hang out for one more semester. As Teen Talk Barbie prophesied in 1992, “Math class is tough.” Since last summer, he has also been gainfully employed part time at Fenix Space, working on RF systems, satellites, and, um, something about parabolas? His hobbies include poker, chess, and Smash Bros, and he comes home on weekends to do laundry, teach little kids how to ride bikes, and tell his mother that dishwasher repair is, unfortunately, not part of the engineering school curriculum, but he will take a look. He’s a good young man. 

Betty (19) is a sophomore studying nursing at UMary in Bismarck, North Dakota. So far she gives it a thumbs up for roommates, classes, professors, and administrators, and a thumbs down for the ND record low temperature of 13 below on March 29. She’s a member of the intramural Musical Theater Troupe and has performed in three shows. In a move she expects to be the crowning achievement of her life, she secured tickets for the L.A. Taylor Swift concert, attended with Anita, and then got to watch the same concert again as a movie. 

Bobby (18) graduated from Saint Monica Academy after closing out his high school theater career with memorable roles as Caleb in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Richard III in Richard III (see the whole performance here). As a graduation gift, he and Jack got to see their dad’s favorite band, U2, at the Sphere in Las Vegas. No one was more surprised than Bob when he was accepted into the prestigious USC film school. So, Jack’s got a new old roommate and Bobby is making cool board games and very cute faux claymation animations. He gave the two most celebrated gifts of 2023: an old timey record player for mom (that the whole family loves) and a dead monarch butterfly cherished by Barbara.

Gus (16) keeps himself busy at SMA, appearing in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Richard III, and Much Ado About Nothing, altar serving, and participating on the varsity swim and basketball teams. He won 2nd place in the schoolwide Poetry Out Loud competition with his recitations of “Surprised by Joy” by Wordsworth and “The Hyenas” by Kipling. Over the summer he attended the Napa Institute Conference as his mom’s assistant, having read How to Win Friends and Influence People . . . twice. To be more specific, he listened to it as an audiobook on triple speed, which is how he listens to everything. This makes his mother want to interrupt him to ask listening comprehension questions (which he can answer). In related news, he bought himself some air pods.

Anita (14) continues to be an MVP at home: keeping track of schedules, packing lunches, and organizing day-after-Thanksgiving murder mystery parties, and at school: captain and setter on the JV volleyball team, voted to be 8th grade graduation speaker by her teachers and classmates, as well as voted to be Mary in the living stations and freshman representative to student council. She earned First Honors and a music award, and was in two school plays. She has expanded her wardrobe quite a bit this year by learning to sew and discovering that she now fits in mom’s clothes.  

Frankie (12) has taken over the role of “guy with a broken arm” from George, and is on his second cast of the year. When not on the DL, he plays flag football and basketball. He is an altar server at SMA and Saint  Andrew, and—when accompanying mom on a “work trip” cruise down the Rhine River—also in Switzerland, Holland, France, and Germany. His favorite parts of the trip were climbing the tower of Strasbourg Cathedral and then having nutella crepes for lunch, and being pressed into service by the maitre’d, who put him to work all over the ship. In Boy Scouts, he is working diligently on his second class rank and his pine cone-throwing skills. Over Thanksgiving, he was determined to have murdered Mitch Maverick (Bobby) in an act of vigilante justice.

Lulu (10) sang “Maybe” from Annie in the CTK homeschool group musical showcase and was an evil unicorn in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. She attended her first sleepover camp over the summer, with Anita there as a junior counselor. On our family road trip she convinced the group to swim/hike up the Chama River against the current to a tiny island which she claimed for her own. In her first year at “real” school, she played volleyball, earned First Honors and the Citizenship Award, and claims to be doing a LOT of “gold slip” worthy good deeds that have, so far, gone unnoticed by the powers that be.

Midge (8) also sang “Maybe” from Annie in the CTK homeschool group musical showcase and was a fellow evil unicorn in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. She and Lulu also do pretty much everything else together: biking and scootering, sewing and bracelet-making, baking and leaving the kitchen a mess to go out scootering again. She was Joan of Arc in the SMA All Saints’ Day pageant, likes recess and school field trips, and has a cowlick and dimples that just won’t quit.

George (6) chose a beaver plush as a road trip souvenir after a stop at Beaver Creek in AZ, and named it Justin Beaver. On his first week in the 1st grade, he proudly announced that everyone in his class had cried except him and one girl. He turned six this year, and so got his official family trip to Disneyland, where he liked Space Mountain and was definitely not afraid of the Haunted Mansion.

Barbara (4) experienced every ride at Disneyland as a challenge to be accepted and overcome. Not against her own fears, but rather against the characters in the ride. She thoroughly enjoyed her day personally vanquishing pirates, ghosts, and Mr. Toad / hell. Being the only kid at home and entertaining herself while mom works at home does NOT particularly suit her tastes, so she’s talked herself into a regular playdate rotation with local friends. On days that she is home with mom, she likes to hang out and offer running commentary and suggestions for how mom could improve her work habits and home management. 

Thank you again to all of you who have kept us in your prayers for all these months. Please keep it up! And come by to visit.

May your Christmas be merry and bright and your 2024 be filled with joy and hope for the future.

With love from the Tierneys,

Kendra, Jack, Betty, Bobby, Gus, Anita, Frankie, Lulu, Midge, George, and Barbara

P.S. In case you haven’t heard, I’m leading a pilgrimage to England, and I’d really love to have you join me! All ages are welcome, I’ll be bringing a couple kids with me, and my parents would be coming if they hadn’t offered to stay home with the rest of the kids!

Get more details here. It would make a great Christmas gift. #justsayin


  1. Maryalene LaPonsie

    Merry Christmas to the Tierneys!

    It’s been a joy watching your kids grow over the years…thanks for sharing these annual updates. 🙂

  2. Maureen Hayes

    What a beautiful family! Can’t believe how much the kids have grown. I know it can’t be easy for you Kendra, but you are doing amazingly well with all you’ve gone through. I can feel Jim smiling down from heaven and being so proud of you all. May you and your family have the most blessed Christmas. Be assured of our continuing prayers.

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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