December 22, 2011 by David Gillaspie
Do you get Christmas cards in the mail…with Christmas letters?
Okay, do you read the letters? We do. Out loud.
The real question is, do you send Christmas cards with Christmas letters?
The ideal Christmas letter is like a resume. One page. If it’s done right, the Christmas letter makes your year look lamer than it was.
If you didn’t captain the last space shuttle mission and spend a month in the international space station communicating with ET, or transplant Stephen Hawking‘s brain into Usain Bolt’s body during a dinner party at George Clooney’s Lake Como villa, you weren’t trying hard enough.
With that in mind, this is the Christmas letter for 2011. I’ll tell you up front you’ve had a better year, so you can relax.
Let’s take it by quarters.
Things started well, stalled, then picked up steam before heading into an extended slide. Now things are looking up.
My Momma fights hard to find a way to live with her ailments, harder than anyone I know. Harder than anyone you know, too. She tells me she keeps up by watching lots of CNN and sports. She votes a straight ticket and loves the Oregon Ducks.
My Dad’s grave site in Klamath Falls gets little care. His second wife buried him there before she moved on to her next man. My sister and her family spruced things up when they drove through, so he got a fresh start. He had one of the best funerals I’ve ever heard of. I’ll do more on that later, but think of the last time a horse was an honored guest and stole the show.
My older brother’s daughters, my nieces, got married. They looked great in pictures.
Younger brother regrets the impersonal nature of facebook communication. I understood the feeling better after he posted happy birthday on my wall, except I liked it.
My sister and her family are in full sports swing. She gets minor grief from those less prepared than she is for a day of competition. Since she’s one of the most organized people ever, I advised her to ignore the comments and do what she knows is right. They have the best chance to add a D1 athlete to the family tree. Row that boat!
The wife and I had a big wedding anniversary. Our chemistry could be taught in graduate science classes. How else to explain my part in helping her friends in need when she asks? It’s called being part of the team. Do it often enough and you’ll have a show on ESPN, or Storage Wars.
My mother in law still rules the world with a gentle hand. If that’s not enough I add a little power. For example, I power washed her deck and stained it on a cold day a few weeks ago. It still hasn’t dried. The weather doesn’t listen to me and I return the favor. Today is the solstice, so we’ve got that going for us. Things are warming up, or lightening up.
The kids push ahead with one college diploma and another on the way. Again, I’ll take credit for their academic skills, but I think they study.
The older needs a job that fits his double degrees in Economics and Spanish with a Business minor. Once he settles into a consistent schedule after the job hunt, he’ll be a happier camper and get a little stronger.
The younger bears down in Business School with classes that seem way more advanced than any I took. I’ve been saying that since their seventh grade parent-teacher conferences.
My year? DG’s B&B says it all, and then some. If one of you readers has writer-career advice, leave it in comments. I could pay a writing guru a few grand for their advice, but I trust you more. Besides, the idea is to get better at this, and your judgement is the cutting edge, the final decision.
What about your 2012?
Celebrate often, big things and small.
Tell someone feeling down about the time they brought you up. Then show them the same.
On your next birthday wear all your presents at the same time no matter what they are. Pin them on. Clip them on. Hang the around your neck. Do that and you’ll be glad to keep the party small the year after. I you won’t, and that you take a picture of the birthday totem.
Be safe, but not fearful. Think of those who challenge death every day of their lives. You are one of them each time you get in your car. Watch out for ‘the other guy’ and don’t be that guy.
Make a difference and pass it on. Call it kindness, consideration, or someone’s lucky day. You can do that.