Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Annual Christmas Letter



Yesterday I got my annual Christmas letters written and ready to mail. No small feat considering my new printer won’t let me print address labels sheets, or at least I can’t figure out how to reset the margins like it says I need to do with the Avery template I’ve used for years. I started writing Christmas letters over a decade ago as a joke after getting one that was full of---frankly---bull. You know the kind; the kids were perfect in every way, the vacation super deluxe, their new house right out of Better Homes and Gardens and their bonuses from work were huge because they were just so darn good at their jobs. That year by contrast, the highlight of our lives was we managed to host a party of cardinals at the bird feeder and the car got its oil changed on schedule. Now that I’m a widow, writing my annul letter is the only Christmas tradition I still have left and that might go in a year or two. People don’t seem to exchange cards like we used to do and in many ways it’s sad that we can’t take the time once a year to touch bases with people who add or did add value to our lives. Anyway, here’s a copy of what I wrote in my letter this year and if is sounds familiar that means you’ve been coming to this blog often enough to recognize the highlights of my year.

Greetings Friends and Family! For those of us who write Christmas letters, it’s that time again when we look back over the past year and reflect on what we should include in our annual ramblings. In my first draft the best I could come up with for 2015 is I didn’t die thus the dog didn’t starve to death because there was no one left in the house to feed him. I didn’t get (seriously) sick either or do anything to get my photo on a FBI Most Wanted poster, but who wants to hear about what didn’t happen? “Wait a minute,” you might by saying, “why did she use ‘not seriously’ as an adjective to the word ‘sick’?” I’ll tell you. Because at the beginning of the year my hair was falling out at an alarming rate, I had no energy and I was so cold I felt like a Popsicle living in a freezer, then it was discovered that my thyroid levels had dropped off the radar screen. Not to worry. They’re back up now, high enough to be mistaken for a flock of geese flying over the airport. By summer I was no longer moving around like a three-toed sloth at the zoo. Did you know that a sloth’s top speed is 0.003 miles per hour? So slow algae can grow on them. The things you learn in Christmas letters!

By summer I fell into a routine of sorting and purging stuff in the house---mostly Don’s---and taking it to an auction house out in the boondocks where they photographed it all, put it online and sent me some pocket change for my efforts. I made sixteen trips, sold 672 lots and while that sounds like I did an impressive amount of downsizing, Don had so many tiny things it hardly made a difference in the house. Sorting it all, though, was like living my life in reverse because everything had a memory or a story attached. 

I did do two memorable things this year, though. One happened the day I drove into the Chevy service center to get an oil change on my Malibu and I drove out with a 2015 Trax mini SUV. Let this be a cautionary tale to anyone who is thinking about killing time in a dealership showroom while they’re working on your car out back. When the salesman asks, “How do you like your car?” keep on walking. I never should have told him about the time I couldn’t get my friend’s walker in the trunk or how I missed being part of the Gray Brigade of “cool” vehicles on the road or about the day the dog barfed on the backseat and it lost that new car smell. 

The other memorable thing I did this year was I stayed in the same Bed and Breakfast that Susan B. Anthony did back 136 years ago. Raise your hand if you knew I only had to go to Saugatuck to do that. (Thank you, Cindy for planning such a fun get-away.) And here’s another bit of trivia for you: You can’t get Wi-Fi or cellphone signals in a room with horsehair in the plastered walls. So if you want to get your teenagers off the grid, check them into the Susan B. Anthony room. I loved soaking up the women’s history in the B&B but we also got a dose of family history. While sorting boxes in the basement for the auction house, I found six cassette tapes made of my mom and dad talking (circa the early 1970s through 1984) and Don was even on one of the tapes. With wine close at hand, Cindy and I spent a couple of evenings listening to the tapes. At one point we laughed so hard I actually thought I’d pass out. That reminds me, there’s an embarrassing section on a tape that needs to be erased of me--- I’d explain but I’m running out of space.

Well that’s it, my 2015 in a nutshell but I’ve got one more thing to say: The holiday season is a time to set aside our worries and woes and let the spirit of Christmas bring us quality time with family and friends, especially the wee ones among us. So bake some cookies, hang the mistletoe, play a few games with the kids and while you’re building new memories take a little time to reminisce about holidays past and the people who are no longer with us.  

Wishing you peace and joy in your little corner of the world. Merry Christmas!

21 comments:

  1. I love it. I do see a spelling error--if it isn't too late to change the letter--"get your teenagers off the GRID not grit.

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    1. Darn! I mailed them today. I sure miss having a proof reader around. Don used to do it for me all but a few years after his stroke when he had to relearn to read again. Hopefully, most people will read it as grid. Next year I'll post it here first. LOL

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    2. I just read it, and I didn't spot it. I read right past the typo. So rest easy. I'm sure most others will, too. If they do spot it, they ought to be smart enough to figure it out.

      It's a nice letter. I've gotten a few of the sort you describe, and my eyes usually glaze over about paragraph two. And you're right about taking time to celebrate the season.

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    3. Well you know why I saw it. I do a lot of editing and proof-reading for a living. Any "normal" person wouldn't even see it, but then, you know I am not what you'd call normal!! LOL

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    4. It's a gift to be able to proofread. I could never, ever do it for a living...or otherwise.

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    5. Shoreacres: I corrected the I corrected the word here after Judy spotted the typo. If only it was a typo. I spelled it wrong from the get-go. Funny, every time I'd re-read the letter before printing it I'd stumble at that point but didn't know why. Know I do. My subconscious was trying to tell me something. LOL

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  2. That is very sweet! Really!
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. Thanks, Leze. I wish you'd start a blog. I'll bet you'd have a lot of interesting things to share.

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  3. The order: Friends, then Family! seems for all generations, Friends are foremost. I'm old- I remember when Family was top of the pops!

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    1. When I wrote "Greetings Friends and Family" it never would have occurred to me to reverse the order and I'm far closer to family than any friends on my list. But I'm dyslexia so maybe I actually meant "Family and Friends." LOL

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  4. (had to re-visit to say: thank you so much fo allowing me to comment as ANON. Am I the only idiot who can.t proves to the Internet Gods that I'm not a robot?! Ten captcha exercises, and still couldn't get throufh - finally gave up on providing comment to another good site that I browse, in disgust).

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    1. My compromise to allowing anonymous comments is to moderate them so that spam doesn't go directly live. I sometimes have trouble proving I'm not a robot so I understand the frustration of jumping those hoops.

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  5. I think this is the first Christmas letter I've ever read. I tend to dump them in the trash. Why? You covered that in the first paragraph. Something about bull.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. I get six or seven Christmas letters a year and I really enjoy them for the most part. When I was younger I had a lot of pen pals so it's kind of a throwback for me. Unfortunately, the older I get the more sad news seems to come in them.

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  6. I LOVE THIS! Your humor shines through and that's such a delight! I get only a handful of cards anymore and no letters. I've pared mine down to one page of mostly photos and a few captions and have cut my "send" list almost in half, since there are some I haven't heard from in years...guess they don't care anymore. I sorely miss the pile of cards and letters I used to get -- it was one of my favorite parts of the season. I'd sit and read and re-read them. Now people say they "don't have time"...makes me sad. Glad you are preserving for the time-being. I'm glad you shared yours here. Thanks!

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    1. Thanks. I'm having a slow week with nothing to blog about so the letter came in handy for an entry.

      Every year I say I'm going to cut out the ones who don't send cards for two or more years, but then I end up doing it anyway. Why? Selfish reasons. They are mostly young people in the family who I may need a favor from someday and I want them to know me better. LOL

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    2. When we think about how Facebook, Twitter and Instagram keeps people in contact so much more often than in the "olden days" with phone calls or letters, I guess it makes sense that getting cards in the mail is dying out.

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  7. This is one Christmas letter I wouldn't mind receiving. Love your sense of humor! :-) -Jean

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    1. Thanks! I have fun writing Christmas letters.

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  8. You know Jean, I make my own Christmas cards to all my relatives and friend that I have their address. If I knew your address Jean, I would send one to you. Yes, you are right when you said that many people don't write letters or cards anymore. There's just to many things today that allow people to use instead of writing. Maybe people are just to lazy.
    Have a beautiful Friday my friend. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. I'll bet your cards are great, Paul. I have a few creative friends who make their own and they are always so welcome. Yours would be too. The cost of sending cards is one factor besides lack of time that enters into Christmas cards dying out. And like I said above, social media keeps people in closer contract year around so cards seem almost silly to some, Have a good holiday.

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