Every year since 1994 I have written a Christmas letter to my family, and given the boys Christmas ornaments to commemorate the things they experienced. I look back at the 12 months we have shared, and recap the good, the bad and the ugly. They get a few decorations to take with them when they have their own tree. Our history is concretized and recounted. My first letter recounts Steve’s inaugural year at WCKG, the death of our first black Lab, Pat’s 8th grade- a parade of simple family moments. Life seemed simpler. This year’s letter wanders from the losses of our parents, to the blessings we shared. I threw in a poem for the first time. The English teacher in me wanted to have William Wordsmith offer the same comfort to the boys that I drew from his words:
What though the radiance which was once so bright
By now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back
the splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind.
(I have loved this poem since seeing Warren Beatty recite it to Natalie Wood in the first movie to break my heart, Elia Kazan’s 1961 Splendor in the Grass...)
We have so much in our lives to find strength in, predominantly each other. I won’t share the private observations that I penned for the kids, but I thought I’d share the newest addition to our tradition- the collage I add to chronicle our highlights. We start with Pat and Rachel eating their wedding cake topper as they mark one year of wedded bliss, and conclude in Hawaii. Mike’s engagement, my Dad in Florida, Matt’s new motorcycle, and lots of moments, big and small are represented. When the kids saw me in surgical garb, they remembered that I had my knee scoped. Moms will use whatever they can to get the kids to help put Christmas away! After the denouement of 2008, with Steve exiting terrestrial radio, the year has seemed calm. My 2009 collage- like life- consists of a few giant moments of sadness, cushioned by hundreds of happy days. Some of my joy comes from sharing in these blogs. Feel free to steal my Christmas letter/ornament/collage tradition- after all, I stole from William Wordsworth for today’s entry.