The Holiday Letter, 2018

My boyfriend has been writing his “Christmas letter,” though it’s several days past Christmas, and the writing seems to be going pretty slowly. I think that the sticking point is me; he hasn’t officially told a lot of people that he has a girlfriend, albeit one he already had before. Really complicated story…Anyway, he’s afraid of being judged, which is not what you want in your holiday letter.

It’s been years since I sent out an end of year letter (scratch that: I see that I sent one to this blog last year!). I’ve been reading through a bunch of the letters that Jim has received this year, and it looks like the rules for  them haven’t changed a whole lot since I was getting them twenty years ago. You talk about all the great things that you’ve been doing and where you’ve traveled, include a few whinges about minor catastrophes (this could be mutual concerns like politics), and then move to Triumphs of the Children.

The problem is that when you suffer from depression and anxiety, one of your children suffers from the same, and the other has Bipolar I, the stories of the annual triumphs are frequently outweighed by the catastrophes. I noticed early on that me and mine started to evaporate from my parents’ Christmas letters. Too difficult to discuss. At first I resented this, but then when I thought about composing my own letter, I began to sympathize, even though it meant that my own uncles and aunts didn’t know anything about my life as a mother. I mean, it takes a certain sort of person to receive the following letter in the spirit in which it might be intended:

Dear Family and Friends,

We find ourselves at the end of another year, very grateful that we are able to live in Northern California, where it’s not too dark this time of year, except when the wildfires get burning. Any extra light is useful for getting me and Pete out of bed at some relatively reasonable time, though he runs on some interesting schedule that has him getting up at 4 in the afternoon to gather with his gaming buddies and going to bed around 8 a.m. That may be a work-around for living together with his brother; they get along great, but perhaps even better if they aren’t always awake at the same times.

I am still working at the same place and will no doubt continue to do so until I’m 70, since this writing thing doesn’t seem likely to pay much anytime soon. Grandma used to tell me that I’d have to write romances before I would be able to write the Great American Novel. I’d hiss that she was wrong…

Martin is on a new medication this year, and though it makes him need to pee all the time, it really seems to keep him much more stable. He hasn’t threatened to kill himself in months, and the jobs he’s thinking about sound a little more reasonable now.  Pete and I felt like we couldn’t tell him that he might not make it as a videogame pro while he was manic.

Pete graduated from his last year of unschooling (whereby he homeschooled himself, but really very successfully!). This last semester he took his first college course, only one, because we’d both neglected to factor in the need for him to have a photo ID to enroll for classes at the community college. Now he has a California ID and a learner’s permit to drive, but it took some work to get them, since the first time we visited the DMV, the woman shouted at us, “That birth certificate won’t work. It’s fake!” It wasn’t fake, but it wasn’t suitable for the DMV, not having the appropriate impress on it, so there was much bureaucracy to be faced.

Pete did do very well in his college Mandarin class, though, and is looking forward to more. I was very relieved, since his brother has tried a couple of community college classes and quickly found them overwhelming, perhaps due to his PTSD following his mugging in 2015. Martin is doing good work now with the Department of Rehabilitation, though, and hopes to find a job through them.

I wish you all a happy 2019 and hope you are all doing as well as we are!

Love,

Elisabeth

Note: none of the names in this letter are real…just in case you might have thought they were…

Photo by Tom Rickhuss on Unsplash

 

 

 

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