It’s time for my annual Holiday Newsletter, a 40-year old tradition that tries to re-cap the family news of the year in some kind of creative way. I’ve done multiple choice tests with one right answer and three funny ones, poems where the reader has to fill in the rhyme, news as it would be reported and laid out in newspapers and re-working some classic poems like The Grinch and the Night Before Christmas (example below). I do have the paper versions in my filing cabinets, but the furthest back my computer can open the Word Documents was 2001.
So before embarking on the 2022 version, I re-read that one from 21 years ago and was struck that I could have written the closing lines today, still hoping for “a new way of thinking, a new way of seeing, a new way of living, a new way of being.” And amidst the craziness of so many running back to the worst of the old ways, there are also many signs that there is a blossoming into the needed new perspectives. For just one example, saw the excellent movie She Said last night and was struck that it was a mere seven years ago that women were expected to keep silent about their “Me, too” experiences. That people in China and Iran were expected to keep silent. That Black Lives Matter was an obscure movement that few white people paid attention to. Despite all the back-pedaling and the ex-Toddler-in-Chief still not in jail (but maybe getting closer!), I see signs of awakening all around me. May it continue!
Meanwhile, here’s a peek into my family life a mere 21 years ago.
'Twas three nights before Christmas
In our just-painted house
Chester, our tabby, was chasing a mouse,
Around the Mac SE computer still there,
The family was huddled with a blank, vacant stare.
The children were grown-up, seventeen, twenty one,
Thinking about all the work to be done.
Talia composing her college essays,
Kerala shopping for gifts in three days
Karen still putting up Holidays lights,
Doug trying to think of the letter to write.
With doubts swirling 'round like the down of a thistle,
Could they still send out the family epistle?
With the world all around in a state of such clatter,
Could one family's stories still possibly matter?
With such suffering around us, would anyone care,
That Talia played basketball, soccer this year?
That Ker headed south for 5 months in La Paz,
That Karen kept going to her painting class?
That Doug taught a college class sharing his views,
Does it really make sense to keep telling our news?
Yet in times of crisis, tradition is needed,
To keep us all anchored and so we conceded,
To send something out to our family and friends,
Yet try something different (perhaps a new trend?)
We hope the new venue won't feel like a bummer,
Read on, if you like, as we tell of our summer.
Ker stayed in Bolivia, Kar painted in France,
Doug went to Bulgaria to play music and dance.
Tal with her Spanish class flew to Caracas,
Doug to Estonia to teach Orff with maracas.
All went to Michigan to swim in the lake,
See family, read books, bike, hike and bake.
Doug had a party for his 50th year,
While on Kerala's birthday, she legally drank beer.
Then came the Fall with a crash and a bang,
Little to sing about and yet we still sang.
A senior at Lick and a senior at Brown,
Karen at school for another go around,
Doug there as well for year 27
Both huddled with children on September 11.
Going on with their work to build hope for tomorrow,
In a dark time of much suffering and sorrow.
And yet as we pause both to grieve and to mourn
Life surges forward, the next day is born.
Tal tries cross-country, works hard every night,
Goes East, visits colleges to find which feels right
"I'm not so turned on by our home-grown U.C.'s
Expensive and East Coast is just right for me!"
She plays in the jazz band, she sings in the chorus,
She dances in dance class, writes with a Thesaurus.
Ker swims and edits, makes pizza at night,
Writes columns each week about immigrant's rights.
And life as a student and foreign affairs,
(Try <theglimpse.com>, you'll find some of them there)
She's looking ahead to her life after Brown,
(Please write if you know of a job in your town.)
Karen switches classes from painting to drawing,
Keeps up with her biking and hiking and sawing.
She teaches and gardens and makes hearty soup,
Loves Ira Glass and enjoys her book group.
And also keeps painting in the basement room,
(But she’s given up weaving and has now sold her loom.)
Doug gives a concert of all the music he's played,
Quite long (no surprise) yet the audience stayed.
Bagpipe and banjo, guitar, drums and xylo,
Body percussion and much jazz piano.
One book soon published, yet others to do,
More time off this winter to see them all through.
So that is a smattering of our news this year
And now we look forward to life free from fear.
A new way of thinking, a new way of seeing,
A new way of living, a new way of being.
A world in which each life is precious and blessed,
Where no one is living at the expense of the rest.
Christians and Pagans and Muslims and Jews,
Buddhists and Taoists and yogic Hindus,
Each building hope for the next generation,
By teaching the children that God loves no nation,
No religion, no people, more than another,
That now is the time to be sister and brother.
A world without naming the other as Satan,
Where each faces boldly the mistakes he is making.
A world free from ignorance, hatred and strife,
Happy Holidays to all and to all a good life.