The Holiday Letter

Holidailies 2005January 5, 2006

Tomorrow is the last day of Holidailies. I missed six dates and won’t be able to post material to each date in time for the final official tally. Once again, I enjoyed the whole enterprise. I started writing again, I got interested in some new journals, and I even once again saw a piece recognized as a “Best of” entry. Once again, thanks to Jette and to the panel of readers. If you’re reading this because you’re a regular, thanks for sticking with me. If you’re reading this only because you read at Holidailies time, thank you as well, and see you next year.

I finally wrote my holiday letter today. I’ve always made mine an end-of-year thing, usually dating it on the Feast of Stephen (December 26, my father’s birthday) and getting it out before year’s end with the thank-yous to those who brought gifts to the party hand-written in the margin. This year I just couldn’t get to it before today. One thing that held me back was knowing that when I printed the address labels I would have to cut five records from my database because the people died since last year. Only one record was that of an elderly couple, friends of my parents. Three were high school classmates. One person was younger than I am.

I have always posted the contents of my letter online. It repeats some material given over my Holidailies series. To those of you already on my postal mailing list, or those of you who hate the genre, click away now. And thanks for reading!

There is less sunlight than
shade today; . . .
. . . the light
shining at the edges of the clouds

                    — Prentiss Moore, “November 7”

Dear Friends,

Usually I date my “end-of-year” letter on December 26, the Feast of Stephen. On that day I did look out to see that not snow but fog lay round about, deep and even, if not crisp. The air wasn’t cold enough for that. The fog has returned intermittently since then, giving central Pennsylvania more the look and feel of November than of January, so I thought that the lines from Prentiss Moore seemed suitable.

It’s taken me ten days beyond my usual letter-writing day to begin this. The “holiday letter” is a genre I particularly enjoy. Indeed, if you’ve known me very long, this might be the tenth or eleventh one you’ve received. I think I was a bit reluctant to begin because it seems this season I heard more negative chat about such letters from more people than usual, some of them people who actually receive mine! “I never read them, I just throw them away” said one person. “Those things are just bragging,” said another. I think I bragged only once, when I reported that, when asked why she chose Millersville University, Lynn answered, “My mother went there, and if it was good enough for the best mother in the whole world, then it’s good enough for me.” Oh my, I did it again!

So, for those of you with impatience toward this genre (who haven’t actually thrown this in the fire yet), I’ll give the PowerPoint version:

  • All of us are well.
  • Lynn’s still in school and doing well.
  • Ron still enoys model airplanes and computer train simulations and (brag alert) his new flat screen HDTV.
  • I’m still writing.

The lowlight was the death of Ron’s mother, Eva DeAngelis, in August. She turned 90 in April, and had been experiencing a slow buy steady decline for several years. She never complained, through all the losses she suffered of friends, of loved ones, of the familiar things and activities she had always taken joy in.  In the weeks before she died she would say to visitors, “I’m glad you came by. I’m going home soon.” We took that as a sign of an increasing loss of orientation in time and space. On Thursday, August 18, she said to one of her dearest friends, “I’m glad you came by. You know, I’m going home tomorrow.” And on Friday, August 19, she did. You can read the words I said for her (and see her engagement picture) at “A Woman of Courage, A Woman of Peace.” We miss her every single day. The highlight, at least for me, was my trip to Wyoming. Yes, I went alone. Ron dislikes (not a strong enough word) travel, and would not be interested in visiting Wyoming even if it were at the west end of the Wade Bridge. (Well, maybe if it were at the west end of the bridge and Lynn were playing hockey there . . . )Why did I go? Because it’s there. Because ever since I read My Friend Flicka when I was ten I wanted to visit that land where everyone owns a horse, you ride him to school and hitch him up outside the classroom, and at the end of the day take him into the hills in search of adventure. And because planning and executing a solo trip to a faraway place (albeit not an exotic one – after all, I speak the language and I didn’t need a passport) roused me out of the funk I fell into in February. I spent two weeks touring the Wind River Range in western Wyoming, after an initial stop in Buford (in eastern Wyoming near Cheyenne) to stand on the land where Mary O’Hara lived when she wrote the Flicka books. You can read my travelogue by going to The Silken Tent 1999–2005 and clicking on the link for pieces in the category “Wyoming.”

So, have I mentioned all the news? We’re healthy, we miss Ron’s mother, Lynn is in her second year as a biology student at Millersville (well, as I write she’s in Utah, visiting McKenna, still her best friend though wheat fields and clothes lines and highways come between them), I’m still writing (visit my sites!!). And I think of you, reading this, whoever you are and however you got onto this list. May 2006 be a year of joy for you.

Holidailies 2005January 5, 2006