Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas Letter Quandry

The flight to DC went quite well- over 300 were canceled out of O'Hare yesterday, but ours got out only an hour and a half late. Landon was a perfect travel companion. He sat quietly during our lunch at the airport Chili's, had a big poop before we boarded the plane, slept for an hour, and then smiled at everyone on board for the last 40 minutes. At one point we had all 3 flight attendants crowded around our seats fawning over him- he's such a flirt, giving them sideways glances and little coy smiles. After landing we cabbed it to the hotel, admired our fancy room (the shower is incredible- lots of sprayers, including ones in the middle of the wall- someday I will own a shower like this), and then spent 30 minutes reconfiguring the room to fit 3 suitcases, a stroller, a crib, the desk, other furniture, and the king sized bed. After some serious rearranging we loaded Landon into the stroller and went out to find dinner. We ended up at a scrumptious Mexican place in Dupont Circle with very tasty frozen margaritas (if you haven't noticed, I rate Mexican restaurants purely on the frozen margaritas- because if they do a good job there, the food really doesn't matter). It would have been a perfect day if Landon hadn't projectile spit up all over his crib, our comforter, the floor, my shoes, and JP's shirt before going to bed, but you can only ask for so much.

JP's parents picked the little guy up this morning and now I'm trying to accomplish things in the room while JP attends his meetings. My to-do list includes: research how to clear a stale mechanic's lien for dad, download the Texas bar application (apparently it's due Jan. 30- what?!), respond to lots of emails, type up address labels for Christmas cards, write the Christmas letter, and create Shutterfly photo albums for JP's parent's Christmas present. I dissected the crazy Texas property code and got the lien question answered for my dad, so I'm moving on to the Christmas letter. Now, I know a lot of people who mock the Christmas letter, saying it's just a way to brag and make your family sound better than the recipient's, but I love them. One of my favorite things about Christmas is reading the letters my family receives from relatives and old friends. Before facebook and blogs they offered one of the only ways to keep up with that group of people whose lives were closely intertwined with yours for a time, like college roomates and old coworkers, that you may no longer stay in regular contact with, but you still want to know how their lives have progressed. I hope that I'll get letters from college and law school friends because I really do want to know if/when they have kids and what they're doing in their careers in 10 and 20 years. Checking the mailbox is so much fun around the holidays and it's such a letdown when someone just sends a card with their signature- I want pictures and information! And, as a personal benefit, they're a great way to document your life. I made a scrapbook for my parent's 25th wedding anniversary and the most fun quotes in there were taken from old Christmas letters. So, in conclusion, written properly and with the intent to update rather than brag, I think the letter is an important part of the holiday card.

But what on Earth do I include this year? Almost everyone on my Christmas list knows about our 2+ month nightmare, and it did dominate the last quarter of the year, so it seems odd not to refer to it at all. But writing: "And in October, Landon was ripped from our arms and taken to a shelter while child abuse allegations swirled around [JP] and I..." just doesn't match my cheery holiday stationary. I suppose it's a sign of how blessed we are- that we've never had to wonder how to address bad events when summarizing the preceding year. I think I'll say something about how the challenges of the past few months have reminded us of the importance of family and friends... or something. I just can't not acknowledge the investigation at all, but I also don't want to mention it so cryptically that someone who doesn't know is intrigued and confused. Hmmm... maybe I'll start with the Shutterfly albums- playing with pictures of Landon photos is so much fun and I already miss the little fellow.


  1. Perhaps you could make the christmas letter heavy on the good stuff and skim over the bad with just a few lines. A lot of good things happened during that time. And the Landon the Lobster picture is a classic. Everyone loves pictures. All that really matters is that you have Landon now and the ordeal is at least partly resolved.

  2. I agree with Someone Being Me. Heavy on the good but don't leave out the bad.

    I LOVE Christmas letters!!! It wasn't until this year that I realized some people don't. How weird! We moved a lot when I was a kid so we get tons from people all over the world and I do one every December. I do one side of text (small!) and the other side photos so we have a double-sided letter to send out. We also include a photo card.

  3. I love holiday letters that are sardonic and mention the bad stuff -- I get so annoyed with the PR letters! My favorite was one that mentioned the couple's sons' circumcisions -- and why (repeated infections). And the kids were, shall we say, already in school. Now that's priceless.

    Which doesn't say much to your dilemma, but why not set aside a boxed section that details what happened? That way you can keep the overall tone upbeat, but be forthcoming, as well.

    If you use a Mac and have iWork, Pages has beautiful, beautiful templates for holiday letters that make them look professional with integrated photos and so on. I just love them!

    Have a lovely time!!!

  4. Can you make 2 letters? The folks who know what is going on get a hearty thanks for helping during "this difficult time" and the folks who do not know get the letter omitting the difficult times. You don't owe anyone anything, really. So the folks who do not know, do not need to know either. My 2 cents.

    I am so glad things are on an upswing for you. My daughter is just a few days older than yours - and I can imagine that your baby is just as snuggly and giggly and roly-poly as mine.


  5. so I have to say this anonymously because well... I blog anonymously, but if you want a good margarita, there is Rosa Mexicano in the Penn Quarter, and Guapo's in Tenleytown. If you want just a phenomenal restaurant, I really suggest Jaleo. No margaritas, but plenty of tapas (little pricey though). Have fun in DC, you deserve a wonderful trip!!!

  6. You had a post a few weeks ago about the family and friends who helped you through the ordeal. I think a version of that post, with just one prefatory sentence about the investigation, would be perfectly appropriate.

    Good work on finding Lauriol Plaza less than 24 hours after touching down in DC!

  7. you know its amazing how awesome showers can be. my last sem on the tennis team, they put in showers in OUR locker rooms (surprise since fball and bball get everything!) that rained from the cieling,personal stalls of was an instant hit! that was my dream shower lol

  8. I have an idea for you, and I'm a writer, so, uh... trust me.

    Pick one day. One really good day. And describe it down to the nth degree. Do you remember the color the leaves? The feel of the breeze? The sound of a baby giggle? Or maybe it was from before Landon was born. Do you remember the anticipation? The planning?

    And write about that. Only that. At the end, you can say something about how days like this triumph over the bad ones. I would - if it were me - end it with, "And when I lay my son down in his crib at night, the last thing I do - after telling him I love him, and Daddy loves him, and Grammy and Grandpa etc etc etc love him - I put my nose into his neck, and I breathe in. That smell. That sweet baby smell. Thank You, God, for that sweet baby smell."

    Seriously, it's Christmas, and you don't need to waste another word on DCFuckingS.

  9. I think that the earlier commenter's ideas about skimming over the bad, and highlighting the good is a good idea. That way you can also get away from the horrible DCFS stuff and start remembering all the wonderful things that the year held.

    Me? I love christmas letters too- but am too cheap to send them in the mail. So I write a card, and send an email- that is the christmas letter with photos.

    Have a great time in DC!

  10. Take a day or two (or three) for your bar application. Especially if you haven't already done your declaration of intent to study law in Texas. It takes FOREVER! But don't do it on your vacation!!! Enjoy your time in the hotel with the big bed. Go spoil yourself or something. It's Christmas! (almost)

  11. ITA about Guapo's. Yum. :) Went there for my post-wedding lunch (yes, we were on a tight budget) and it was one of our favorite haunts the whole time we lived in DC.

  12. Honestly now, is there any other way to judge a Mexican restaurant than by the margaritas?!?!

    And there's no good reason NOT to send out a Christmas letter- people are just too lazy these days to write anymore.

    Enjoy your trip!