Confessions of a Christmas Letter Writer

by Suzannah Gilman, first published on The Gloria Sirens

 

There is the art of writing letters, and then there is the art of writing Christmas letters, which hardly anyone masters.

To write Christmas letters, a person will ideally have a highly-refined sense of how much overstatement, embellishment, and lies by omission others can stand. But if a person has no such sense, it would help for them to have a sense of irony so that when people say, “I love getting your letters,” they won’t get a swollen head.

I was brought up in a family of braggarts, all of whom were strangers to irony.

The other day, I mentioned my disappointment over that to my mother and she said, “Um… well, can you tell me what irony is?”

Those who could master the art of writing Christmas letters, because they know how to avoid horn-blowing and because they are blessed with irony, are the last people on earth who would write them.

When I was a child, my grandmother got long, Xeroxed, pride-filled Christmas letters from a distant relative, the most hyperbolic rundowns of a rather ordinary middle-class family’s year than most people can imagine. Maybe my grandmother and I were the only ones who read those letters with awe, ooh-ing and aah-ing over such grand exploits as her fifth cousin driving a golf cart in a small-town parade. We were much below middle class, and we were darn proud of being related to such accomplished people!

So when I had children and for the first time lived a life that seemed successful to me,  (my husband had a full-time job, we were involved in our children’s education, we weren’t renters, and we had vehicles that were not in danger of breaking down), I started writing Christmas letters.

Read the rest here: Confessions of a Christmas Letter Writer

 

merry-christmas-from-our-house-to-yours

 

 

 

 

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Transitioning Through the Holidays, a Mother Learns to Let Go

by Suzannah Gilman, first published on The Gloria Sirens

I have four children, all adults in their twenties now, one about to turn thirty, one married, one getting married in January, and the other two in serious relationships with women they adore.  I wanted this.  I wanted four children.  I wanted big family holidays.

This Christmas Eve and Day, I won’t see any of them.

For years, my four have been saying that they wanted out of Florida, and three of them have gone.  Two moved in January of this year, so this season is the transition challenge for me.  I never imagined that the day would come when my children would all live in different places.  I’m glad that I never imagined being without them on Christmas.

If I dwelled on this long enough, I could have a rollicking pity party.

This hardly seems like Christmas.  I didn’t even put up a tree; I decorated the mantel.  I won’t be staying up half the night on Christmas Eve wrapping presents. I won’t be cooking a big meal. My fiancé and I are grilling steaks.  A single friend is coming over after he has dinner with his brother and his family.  I didn’t do any holiday baking.  I bought a huge tin of cookies at Costco.  Now the song “Blue Christmas” means something to me.

So instead of thinking about what I don’t have, I’ll think about what I do have.


Read the rest (286 more words) here: Transitioning Through the Holidays, a Mother Learns to Let Go

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Dumbass, or Words We Learned from Our Fathers

A deceitfully short look at the varied meanings of “ass,” by the always-thoughtful Katie Riegel.  She packs a powerful punch using only 362 words.  No wonder she’s one of my favorite writers.

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We laughed the colors of grief and helplessness and our own anger, and we breathed in the colors of hope and confidence, and then we laughed all of it out again.

Read it here, on The Gloria Sirens.

PRIDE: From Our House to Yours

Did you get Christmas letters this year? Do you love them or hate them? Here’s a confession from someone with a long history of sending Christmas letters– me. I try to keep a sense of humor about it.