Because you need a message from a friend in the middle of all those end-of-the-year solicitations for money.
I checked my email inbox today, and it was so sad. it was even sadder than my actual mailbox, which has been stuffed with “mail” from charities, noble causes, pleas from political candidates, and grocery store coupons. (No, I have not discarded the Oxford comma, and I never will.) Here’s a some random news and speculation from me to brighten up your New Year’s Eve Day, because who doesn’t need some real mail?
“Family holiday letters are so 20th century, but I still love them.”
Jim and I are getting the hang of this retirement thing. He’s figured out when all of the major soccer games are televised, and I have binge-watched all of the Great English Baking Show. We did a bit of traveling, some together, some not. (“Let there be spaces in your togetherness”, Kahlil Gibran. Best couples advice ever.) Highlights were Mexico and Chautauqua, NY (just me), Spokane and Costa Rica (just him), and Raleigh, NC, Star Island, NH, and Rehoboth Beach, DE (both of us), topped by a week in West Virginia with family and friends at Thanksgiving.
I continue to slog away at my third book, Que Sera,Sera: A generational autobiography, about how the clothing of the last 70 years reveals how I learned to be female, feminine, and white. Don’t hold your breath for a copy: it HAS been a slog.
We both turned 70 this year (how terribly strange, as Paul Simon observed in his 20s), Jim with little fanfare, me with a backyard party with ice cream, cake, and a professional clown. (Who’s the introvert now?)
The coming year is going to be a challenge, on every level. How could it not be? If our parents were still living, we’d get a lecture about the Great Depression and the Second World War, as a reminder of the power in community and unity. The power is still there, as is the realization that we never know if it will be enough to make a difference. As Geraldine Brooks writes in March (one of the best books I read in 2019):
The outcome is not the point.
The point is the effort…To believe to act, and to have events confound you — I grant you, that is hard to bear. But to believe, and not to act, or to act in a way that every fiber of your soul held was wrong — how can you not see? That is what would have been reprehensible.
That’s a heavy thought for a holiday letter, but there’s no sugarcoating the mess we are in: our country, humanity, the earth. So I plan to hold tighter to the good people around me, and balance my need to turn inward for restoration and to direct my energy outward for positive change.
“Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.”
I used to joke that I could never figure out which was which. A recent conversation finally switched on the light. My really indispensable friends - the “golden” ones - are a mix of ages, and they came into my life anywhere from middle school to last year. What they have in common is the way we fit together, the comfort we enjoy in our interactions. Sometimes it happens quickly: you hit it off at a first meeting. But you can also know someone for years or decades before you finally get a chance to connect on that magical level that leads to close friendship.
So make new friends and keep the old; cherish the ones that turn out to be gold.
Friend, I hope 2020 brings you good times, resilience, community, and golden friendships galore.