A Christmas Letter for You

It’s snowing here in the foothills, there is a fire going and the pup is either asleep or eating my running shoes. I’ve thought about going out and shoveling, but the storm has another eight hours to go and the Boulder Snow Police never really get to my neighborhood.

I’m staring at two things: the calendar that says Christmas is two weeks away and a blank page on my laptop that is the beginning of the annual Christmas letter.

This Christmas letter thing of mine started some years ago with my Dad, who upon seeing a mimeographed Christmas letter, pronounced it, “an insincere chain letter from a gasbag.” That the letter was from my grandmother, his mother-in-law, had no bearing on his opinion. That he hated Christmas letters was vast encouragement to me.

Over the years, I’ve gotten a number of Christmas letters on some sort of colored paper with badly reproduced snapshots of some fairly dreadful-looking people. Something like:

Dear Alan (often misspelled or shortened to Al, a name I haven’t answered to since puberty): Well it’s been another happy (add smiley face icon) and productive year for the Smith family here in Colorado Springs. Dad, who as you know, has held a very (hush-hush) position in the Defense Department has had to work such long hours that he rented a studio apartment near the Federal Center and sometimes comes home for weekends. He started a workout program and found a tailor. Did I mention that he bought a Porsche that he pronounces POORCHA? In Colorado Springs, we still call them pourshas. But he’s great when we get to see him.

The kids are terrific. Jimmy, who was always fun, is up for probation next summer after that dreadful trial where they blamed him for burning down an entire strip mall when all he did was sort of drive his pickup through the stores like he saw folks do in some movie or video game.

Jenny, who was always the tease, has just completed her GED and is going to Pikes Peak Community College in the spring. Her daughter, our first grandchild Meghan, was born a year ago halfway through Jennny’s junior year. Jenny plans on majoring in counseling.

Jamie, the brain, is halfway through his community service for setting off an explosion in the back yard. It’s clear to his Dad and me that the fifty-pound bag of fertilizer was for making rocket fuel for his experimental rockets, however the ATF made a case for possible bomb manufacture.

And me, well I’ve been great with my church work where I counsel unwed mothers to keep the child like my Jenny did. I still love to crochet toilet paper covers for all the crafts fairs and if I do say so myself, I bake a mean rum cake. And I remain ever thankful for a variety of Mother’s Little Helpers, some with batteries.

All of us want to wish you Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the happiest  (obligatory second smiley face icon) family in Colorado Springs.

Whew. Those are hard letters to read without tumbling out of your chair laughing.

And over the years, I’ve written a number of Christmas letters, some happy, some sad, and some that are both. So here is my Christmas letter of wishes for you. And if you are of other religions than today’s Christianity, as practiced by some social and political pond scum who make me ashamed to call myself a Christian, believe me when I say that these wishes are for you too.

I wish for you:

• A place of your own, with food and beer in the fridge and books lining the walls with an old chair for reading with a table beside it for your beer and notebook and with a couch and wool blanket for naps.

• Waking up in the morning and feeling like a young animal during your first stretch. And if you creak a tad bit as you walk to the john for a pee, it’s okay, we all do.

• A job where you can make a difference if only to smile at that person on the gurney and squeeze their hand to let them know you think they’ll be okay.

• A living parent or mentor or great boss who is still watching you for signs of improvement.

• A mountain bar where everyone knows your name.

• A warm hand (not your own) moving across your body on a winter’s night.

• Powder to your knees in the out of bounds, where only the stout hearted go (with beacons please).

• Good reads from writers whose words come from the heart and not the head. May I recommend almost anything from Jim Harrison or Stanley Crawford.

• A truck that starts every morning year round.

• A dog who loves you in spite of yourself.

Merry Christmas unknown friend, and if you are really lucky, I wish you this blue-eyed (brown-eyed is just as good) person to spend the rest of your life with. And if you haven’t found this person yet, my Christmas gift to you is the wish that you find this person soon.