December 26, 2011

The Christmas Letter

Every year for the last 30 something years I have sent out Christmas cards, and for at least 25 of those years I included “The Christmas letter.” I have always believed and still do believe my friends and family like to see the latest picture of the kids, as well as learn about our lives. I certainly enjoy updates and pictures, but this year it will not happen in our family.

Perhaps I am being a grinch, or a scrooge, or perhaps I‘d rather spend the $400 on groceries. I have thought this over numerous times in the past three weeks and always come to the same conclusion, what I have to share cannot be explained in words.

I cannot share that we went on a fabulous vacation this year, my plane fare budget was spent going to New Jersey three times in search of a job. Neither John nor I can share that we received big promotions at work, neither of us have a full time job. I was lucky to get some consulting work, but we pay for our own health insurance. We cannot say we bought a beautiful new home, instead we are lucky to still have a roof over our heads. As far as a wonderful new car, Alex and I were in a bad accident on the way to get Courtney at the Denver airport, we are lucky no one was seriously injured, and now we are down a car since mine is totaled.

But these are not important things. What is important is what I learned this year about myself, my family and my friends. In the absence of a fulltime job I spent more time with my kids and my husband. I was able to feel their emotions , share their humor and respect the people they are becoming. I had time to dream for our futures and especially Alex’s. I had the opportunity to meet many incredible people who share my dream for an inclusive community and turned that vision into a not for profit, Valley Life for All.

I learned that mothers worry no matter how old their children are, and in that worry a stronger relationship is built. I learned that sisters are supportive and kind, and only want the best for me and my family. I learned that my first friends are also my dearest, these women who have known me for forty years are the truest. I also learned I have one special aunt, who helped us when we most needed help. Most importantly I learned that although materialism is nice it is not necessary to maintaining happiness.

If I were to write that Christmas letter I would share that I am beginning to become the person I want to be. This was not by design, it was by a recession that has taught me humility and resilience. I do not wish anyone to have to deal with the struggles we have had this year, to fear for their livelihood, and be told over and over again they are overqualified for positions. I do not wish anyone to cry the tears I cried this year, or be told they look gaunt and sick. The world is a crazy place these days, and even as I fear for our future, I rejoice in our lessons.

In my letter I would vow to treat people as I would want to be treated. I will try never to make promises I cannot keep, never to tell someone I will help them and then disappoint them. I will never tell a friend I will help them find a job, or assume I am so important I can do that. I will try never to be selfish and put my needs before those of my loved ones. I vow to always donate a large portion of my income to help those in need, and to work as hard as I can to raise money for Valley Life for All.

Yes, what occurred in our lives in 2011 cannot be written in a Christmas letter, it can only be lived in 2012. A new year, a new life and many more lessons to be learned and shared. I am grateful.


  1. I loved your "not a Christmas letter". It is amazing what the things that are the hardest for us teach us the most. Thank you for being so transparent. Happy New Year to you and your family.

  2. This was one of the best 'Christmas Letters' I've ever read!It will make me think twice about what I write in my letter next year.

    Happy New Year!


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