Even though I don’t receive many of them (maybe more would come in if I sent out the occasional Christmas card?), I like Christmas letters. In the hands of someone creative like my niece, the annual update is a delight. But since I’m addicted to stories, I find Christmas letters at least mildly interesting even if the sender is someone I hardly know, like the daughter-in-law of my mother’s cousin once removed.
I’ve never sent out a Christmas letter myself, which for a writer is something of an embarrassment. Maybe this is the year to try it. See what you think:
It’s been another above-average year at our house. We got our usual promotions and bonuses at work, enjoyed entertaining our many friends, and gave back generously to the community in our usual ways. We’re both still wearing the same size clothes as we wore in our 20’s, we never disagree or raise our voices, and our children are all outstanding in their fields.
One of the grandchildren just received an acceptance letter from Harvard—not bad for someone who is still in preschool!! His parents are excited, of course, but they think if he does well in kindergarten next year he’ll probably get offered a scholarship at Stanford, so they aren’t making any commitments quite yet.
In June I bought a quirky little painting at a garage sale for five bucks. Turns out it was an original Picasso!!! The appraiser on Antiques Roadshow valued it at three million dollars! We sold it at Sotheby’s this fall—our accountant is still figuring out the tax consequences of that little capital gain!!
Sparky won Best of Show at the Westminster dog show this year!! Not bad for a rescue pup from the animal shelter! We weren’t going to do the show circuit, but the trainer simply begged us to let Sparky compete—she said he was the closest thing to a perfect Southern Basset she had ever seen. Now he’s in great demand as a sire, which makes it a little awkward when we explain that having him neutered was one of the requirements when we adopted him. Oh, well, at least he enjoys drinking out of the silver cup with his name on it!
And finally, my blog was among the finalists for the prestigious “Five-W” (Wit and Wisdom on the World Wide Web) award this year! I was deeply touched, even though I didn’t win. The judges said even though my stories about Sparky were entertaining, I would have done better with more cute kitten videos. Maybe it’s time for another visit to the animal shelter. Just don’t let Sparky know!!
Wait. You don’t believe any of that? Not even the Picasso? Drat; I knew I should have said Grandma Moses instead.
Maybe this will work better:
It’s been a year pretty much like any other, with family, friends, work, play, and the usual share of ups, downs, and sidewayses. Until this fall, when a health concern in the family brought home to us that the idea of “live life to the fullest, because you never know what might happen” is a truism because it’s, well, true.
The person involved is doing well—nothing is life-threatening or even life-style threatening or in need of treatment right now. But in the process of unraveling this medical issue, for me one fact has moved from the theoretical to the actual. We are all going to die, and so are the people we love most in the world. Someday. Possibly sooner, hopefully later. We don’t necessarily get to choose when.
And in the meantime, we are very much alive. The world—in spite of the fears and wounds and resentments and even evil that we humans harbor and sometimes inflict on one another—is filled with opportunities for kindness, love, and joy. It really is important to count our blessings, appreciate our loved ones, and savor one moment at a time.
It’s almost impossible to talk about something this important without sounding like a parody of a self-help guru. Like so many other things, living in the now is hard to put into words and is best learned by practice and example. The example that inspired me this Christmas morning came from one of the small grandchildren. Ignoring his “real” gifts for the moment, he was intently focused on popping, one at a time, the little inflated sacs in a piece of bubble wrap.
Gifts, and the opportunity to savor them, come in a multitude of ways. Merry Christmas.