Christmas Letter, 2019
For a long time, I wrote a Christmas Letter every year telling my friends and family members what my wife Linda and my daughter Lillian and my granddaughter Luciana were up to. I talked about the good things and those things that weren’t so good. It was a way of keeping in touch with all those scattered friends and family members that we had all over the country, from Seattle, Washington, to Tallahassee, Florida, to Austin, TX, to Fairfield, Connecticut, to Chicago, IL.
I was just reading through all those old letters and wondering why I stopped writing them. They weren’t hard to write, letters to family and friends never are. You just find a pen and a sheet of paper, or an iPad, and go for it. So why did I stop writing them? The last one I wrote was in 2013. That was six years ago. There have been plenty of Christmases since then, so how come I didn’t write those Christmas letters. It wasn’t like we weren’t getting them from other folks.
Just before I sat down to write this Christmas Letter, I asked my wife Linda if she remembers why I stopped writing these letters. She looked at me and shook her head and said, “You never liked writing them.” Her answer surprised me. Reading through all those old Christmas Letters, I kept thinking how much joy there was in my writing and in the things I was writing about, the vacations we were taking, the happy and evolving lives of my wife and my daughter and my granddaughter, and the books I was writing. Not everything of course was joyful, things like my mom’s death and my heart attack, but still these were things I wrote about that needed to be shared.
I just don’t know why I stopped writing Christmas Letters? Maybe it was some kind of Ebenezer Scrooge virus that took over me, made me want to say Bah Humbug to all that Christmas stuff, including the Christmas Letter. I don’t know. That just doesn’t sound like me.
I may not know why I stopped writing those Christmas Letters, but what I do know is that I am going to write a Christmas Letter this year, and this is it:
Dear Family and Friends,
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all.
It’s been quite a year, full of wonderful things and things I’d rather forget.
Let me get the bad stuff out of the way first. I’ve had some crazy health issues this year. (If you’re following me on Facebook, you can move on to the next paragraph.) I came down with a tick-borne disease called Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. For three months, I had a fever that came and went, headaches and nausea, body pain that was with me day and night, and a loss of appetite that saw me drop 20 pounds in a couple weeks. Three months of super antibiotics helped clear the disease out of my body. But that’s not all the bad news. While I was fighting this, my left knee started giving me trouble, and I ended up getting surgery. But that’s not all the bad news. The knee isn’t healing. I have an undiagnosable problem in my left leg that has caused it to swell up, from top to bottom. The doctors have run all kinds of exams and tests and have no idea what the problem is. I walk and sit in pain constantly, and despite this I was able to finish the next novel in my Hank and Marvin mystery series. It’s called Little Altar Boys, and it’s about priests gone back in a Polish-American parish on Chicago’s near northwest side.
Now that the bad news is out of the way, you’re probably asking yourself where’s the good news?
Here is the best news: Linda and Lillian and Luciana and I have all moved into together. For years, we’ve lived near each other, but this spring we decided to consolidate households. We bought a gorgeous house in Lynchburg that is the prettiest house we’ve ever lived in. It’s in the woods with a beautiful layout, plenty of room, visiting deer, and a hot tub. But that’s not the best part. The best part is that Linda and I can see our daughter and granddaughter every day, from early morning to late at night.
And what are we all doing?
Luciana continues to be interested in a whole bunch of different things. She had a great time at 4H Camp this year, and she continues to practice piano and ballet. This winter she’s appearing in Central Virginia Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker. For the first time, she’s one of the Chinese dancers!
Lillian is still enjoying her time as an Assistant Principal at EC Glass. She loves the challenge and the friendships she’s made with the students, faculty, and administrators.
Linda is recovering from the move that got us into this great house. She was the driving force that packed up and organized and unpacked and reorganized all the stuff that our household and Lillian’s contained. A large part of the recovery involves her just hanging out in this new house and staring out the beautiful windows at the deer and trees and hillsides.
We’ve also taken some time off to do some traveling. In June, the four of us went to London for a couple weeks. This was Luciana’s first time abroad, and London was the perfect place. She especially loved Hampton Court and the Victoria and Albert Museum. But that’s not the only trip she’s taken. She and her mom and their friends the Friedmans did a cruise to Bermuda, and this Christmas, Linda, Lillian, Lucian, and I are going to do our traditional Christmas cruise to the Bahamas.
And Linda and Lillian and Luciana and I are all looking forward to the new year. We are hoping that Tony and Mabel, Linda’s 95-year-old parents, decide to move into our terrace apartment. We’ve been rehabbing one of the terrace rooms for them, and it’s just about ready.
But there’s plenty of room, so if you want to stop by for a few days, we’d all love to have you.
Until then, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
This Christmas letter was published in the Polish Daily News of Chicago. It also appears online. If you’d like to add a comment, just follow the link below. And thanks for doing so.