The Stuff We Don’t Put in Our Holiday Letters

When a dear friend called me this week from Arizona, she rasped out “Merry Christmas” and promptly went into a coughing fit.

“What’s going on? Are you okay?” 

Well, no, she wasn’t okay. Never mind her cheery, everything-is-great and I can’t wait to start my MBA holiday newsletter that had arrived in my mailbox a few days ago. She’d come down with a serious case of the desert flu. Her lungs had nearly shut down, and she’d been hospitalized twice this past month.

“But … but you didn’t say a word in your letter,” I said.

“Yeah, I didn’t want to send bad news at the holidays and be a downer.”

I was upset she hadn’t told me what she’d been going through. I could at least have sent her a get well card and a care package.

But in thinking more about her somehow leaving out a major illness in her holiday news, I recognized I do the same thing. It’s not that I don’t tell the truth about what’s going on in our lives in our holiday letter, but I leave a lot of parts out—the sad parts and the aggravating parts. I guess I don’t want be too depressing, or have folks wrinkle their noses and gasp, “TMI!”

So, in the interests of full disclosure, in addition to all the good stuff that’s happened in my family this past year, here are some of the things I grieve about:

  • My older son’s much loved stepmom, a wonderful person, passed away. She was only sixty-three.
  • One of our longtime friends from our dancing lives lost his partner of 40 years and faces the first holiday without him.
  • A close friend’s sister has been battling cancer for more than two years, and the prognosis isn’t good.
  • My mom’s dementia is growing worse. There are times when she cries and is so confused, and I feel powerless to help.
  • I periodically go through bouts of depression, and then I feel guilty for being depressed because really, I’m so lucky to have an amazing spouse and family.

I could go on, but you get the picture. My life is much like anybody else’s—full of sorrows, as well as joys. What sustains me is the power of love and kindness.  Oh yeah—humor helps too.

I wish you an abundance of all three in the New Year.

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