Christmas letters were a lot of fun to write when my children were little. I mean, really little. “So and so took her first steps this year. Sure to be the beginning of an illustrious future as a track and field star!” Or, “6 year old you-know-who received a perfect attendance certificate at school this year. Hope they give those out at Harvard! Ha ha ha!” Those were the years of suppositions and projections.
I remember the year I stopped writing a family Christmas letter. Actually, I wrote one that year and wrote our family truth in it and, as I always would do, showed it to my comrades in arms at the homestead. The letter was met with unanimous silence; a disapproving silence and promptly shelved.
It was a banner year for the Maxim clan and I was compelled to share it in all its glory. It went something like this:
“Greetings family and friends! Whew! What a year! Let me give you the lowdown on what’s been happening in our little nest.
Eldest child finally came out of the closet (bet you didn’t see that one coming, ha ha!) and promptly became a pseudo goth/punk high school freshman. That ought to help her make loads of friends, don’t you think? She’s played ‘I’m A Creep’ a few thousand times each day this year; we’re really getting to appreciate Thom Yorke.
Our youngest once again failed math, but hey! At least she’s consistent! We’re hoping her deep interest in brushing her Barbies’ hair prepares her for future in either dog grooming or beauty school.
Dear husband’s parents are living with us for the next year! Doesn’t that sound awesome?! Yep, that’s the same mother-in-law who wished me dead, but, hey – this will give us time to bond!”
Yeah… that letter never went out.
And the subsequent years haven’t engendered any letters for one simple reason.
Not because there haven’t been projections or dreams or illusions. I could never have imagined the blessed life I have been gifted with, the marvelous unfolding of my children’s lives and the treasure of their accomplishments.
Simply put: I cannot begin to capture the wonder and surprise that is life.
How do I explain the life-giving conversations with my daughters while we cuddle in bed? Or the profundity of looking at my spouse of almost 30 years and still feeling dizzyingly in love with him? Or the privilege of having my parents and sister near me, of the wonderful times we share? How do I express my satisfaction of seeing my little girls grow up to be remarkably well-adjusted women?
Not only am I feeble at finding the words to write, but what a boring letter.
No, you won’t be getting a family Christmas letter from me. Probably not until grandkids start arriving and taking first steps and I get caught up in exclamation points once again. Until then though, know that life – as usual and unusual – goes on with us. In all its glory.