Friday, December 18, 2009

My Christmas Letter to You

Happy holidays, Dear Readers!
I didn’t think it would be possible to summarize the last two months in one blog post, but it turns out, there’s a genre that was invented to project four-dimensional lives into tidy missives: THE CHRISTMAS NEWSLETTER LETTER. I’ve never received one of these letters, but I read about it in the WSJ and did some research on the internet. So, y’know, I’m kind of an expert now.

I have no children doing precious children things, but my English improves every day. Last week, while I was looking for the name of words that can be used as both verbs and nouns (like flock, arm, blog, and rise), I came across the word “anthimeria” which describes words deployed as a part of speech other than their accepted parts (ie She poemed that. That was so L.A. I felt angry and whiskey.) I was disappointed not to find the word I was looking for, but I’ve been using anthimeria as a verb with impunity ever since. (More on double-meanings in an upcoming blog post on the linguistics of love.)

For our annual Thanksgiving service project, my company volunteered in shifts at the USO in Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport. Seasoned volunteers from any cause will tell you that a volunteer gets more out of volunteering than the folks she's helping, but a stint at the USO is exceptional in this aspect. We'd spent days baking cookies, organizing, and making holiday cards for soldiers. We cheered and applauded soldiers coming up the escalators that all flights empty into. We learned to tell who was starting R&R or ending R&R by their reactions. We organized the luggage for a couple hundred soldiers flying to Iraq- two days before Thanksgiving. How can I describe the powerlessness of my oatmeal cookie offering to a young, very young, man or woman getting in the frame of mind to commute to the hardest job I can imagine?

Later, I got into a debate on immigration policy, half my mind occupied by the soldiers I'd met that morning. We had predictable economic arguments, but who could care about economy that day? We send our bravest to defend freedom halfway around the world while turning away people looking for the same thing on our doorstep, and examining why sent me headlong into a bourbon. Only one, though, because I had to go to Dallas for the seventh wedding this year.

Thanksgiving weekend, four weeks after he told me he would and three days after he landed in our hometown on leave, my brother got married.

After a week of lobbying for him to tell our parents that (a) he had a girlfriend and (b) he wanted to marry her this month, he did, and wedding planning commenced like a Texas tornado. Here I am at the beginning of the toast:

"When my brother overheard the saying 'love makes fools of all of us,' he said, 'Not me.' I think he's right. False love is blindness that makes us forget who we are. But true love is lucidity that shines light on the good and the bad. That way, we can be ready for both.
But I had to power through the end:

"Matthew and Jessica, may you embrace the good, the bad, and each other all your days."
I'm powering through the end of 2009, too. (Did you catch that anthimeria?) It's not that I oppose charity, togetherness, and peace on earth. It's just exhausting to squish the bulk of our quota in 5 weeks. So forgive me for sending this mass letter to all seven of you, dear readers. I wish you the happiest of holidays, and I sincerely hope to get Christmas newsletters from each of you soon.



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