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








Leslie Salas: When You Need to Break Bread with Voters from the Other Side


Originally published on The Gloria Sirens.

We’re in that weird space between last week’s election and next week’s day of Thanks. And in that middle space, we’ve all had to face some uncomfortable feelings about our nation, our communities, and even our friends and family–especially as we gear up for some potential awkwardness, discomfort, or downright hostility and fear around the turkey and stuffing. Many open letters have been written in the aftermath of this election as a way of dealing with these feelings, and many of them seem to be written toward daughters about their uncertain futures. One of the letters that stands out to me the most is Mira Jacob’s letter to her son.

In her letter, Jacob relates how being brown impacted her life in post-9/11 America and speculates as to how it will continue to impact her life–and the life of her half-brown little boy–in the wake of Trump’s win. In particular, she discusses a conversation she had with her 8-year-old prior to the election:

Your father’s parents are Republicans living in Florida. For years, this had led to the kind of dinner discussions we’ve all tried to avoid, with your father devolving into righteous incoherence as your grandmother cites Fox News references. But even though he falls far from the tree, your grandparents love your father dearly, and he loves them back. With you, they are gentle, funny, loving, and wise, which I think is maybe why you’ve been so confused as national events have played out. In the last few months, your questions have become particularly acute.

“Grandma and Grandpa are really voting for Trump?”

“Last I heard, yes.”

“But aren’t they scared that Trump is racist?”

“I don’t think they think of him that way.”

“So he’s not racist?”

“No, he is, but…I think they don’t really look at that part. They are voting for him for other reasons that make sense to them.”

“But won’t they be scared for us if he wins?”

“Your grandparents love you a lot.”

“But what if—”

“A lot.”

And then in bed that night, just when I thought you’d conked out, “But can’t you just ask Grandma and Grandpa not to vote for Trump? Can’t you say, please, you live in Florida, do it for us?”

I said no quickly and firmly and we had to read a whole other book just to get you to go to sleep. But that night, when you were sleeping, I typed up an email. Dear Mom and Dad, I wrote. I made the best case I could. Please, I wrote, for us. I cried as I wrote it. I read it three times to make sure it was the absolute best letter I was capable of writing. Then I deleted it because the only thing worse than having to beg them to imagine our lives would be hearing them say no.

As a Floridian person of color and new mom to a biracial little boy, I faced the same dilemma as Jacob over and over again.


Read the rest of Leslie’s post here:

When You Need to Break Bread with Voters from the Other Side


Why Won’t She Leave Him?

Don’t tell her what to do; talk to her and listen. Offer your help, but understand that to leave or not to leave is her decision. Respect it. And tell her you respect her.
Acknowledge the pain and turmoil she is in, most especially the emotional turmoil. If she doesn’t leave him, don’t give up on her leaving him. Give her love, respect, support, and time. It’s going to take all of that.

“Grab them by the p—y” Evil Misogynist Donald Trump and What We Learned From This

Source: “Grab them by the p—y” Evil Misogynist Donald Trump and What We Learned From This


I can’t see why there’s such a stir about this video showing Donald Trump’s vulgar objectification of women and boastful declaration that he will commit sexual assault. Seriously? We didn’t already know he’s a vile misogynist who promotes rape culture, AND WORSE? But the video does have value. It proves another fatal character flaw of Trump: He doesn’t follow through.

Nothing but a pompous blowhard whose egomania demands he be surrounded by sycophants (how many campaign managers has he had?), Trump talks a big game. Braggadocio spews from him like diarrhea. But he doesn’t follow through.

Read 527 more words at The Gloria Sirens.


Anglophile For Life

I don’t think I’ve ever met a more ardent, dedicated Anglophile than Katie Riegel. She means it. I mean really, really means it. She even married an Englishman! No matter that she had to relocate to Memphis to be with her very own Prince Andrew. They recently spent a month away, mostly in England, but Scotland and France, too. One could enjoy this photo essay for the photos alone, but the commentary adds so much. (Isn’t it fitting that her last name is pronounced “Regal?”)

Katie is a poet, and her prose is poetic. She was previously married, to a wonderful man we all admire and love, and during the end of the marriage, she wrote the book, “Letters to Colin Firth.” In them, she ponders and describes her journey through the end of the marriage (one in which she is still good friends with her ex) and the beginning of her connection with Andrew, her English husband. She writes with Colin Firth in mind as her ideal reader or, perhaps, confidante. (Because don’t we tell strangers things we don’t tell to those close to us?) If you’re interested in “Letters to Colin Firth,” by all means click on this link.

In the meantime, enjoy this photo essay. It is, as Brits say, “Brilliant.”

By Katie Riegel

Yes, my friends, I went to England this summer. I went during July, when the temperatures in Memphis were sweltering in the humid 90s. I went with my husband, who is English, and we visited his fam…

Source: Anglophile For Life

Stop. Look Up.

“Get your head out of that phone. Be the realest thing around. Stop and look up. This is your ‘one wild and precious life.’ Take it all in.”

Twelve travel photos and a few words to go with each one. Visit Martha’s Vineyard, Rome, Paris, London, New York, Santa Monica, Tintern (Wales), and Salt Lake City in three minutes!