Christmas letters

It’s December. It’s time to write my Christmas letter.

I’ve tapped out the first draft. To be honest, the final draft will pretty much be whatever I wrote for the first draft. Sure, I’ll print it out and fix the typos and move a few words around, maybe replace one or two. But this blogging thing works for me because I can write stuff and then let it go. There’s not a million phases of editing and rewriting to go through. I guess if I don’t get it pretty much right the first time, it doesn’t usually happen for me.

Anyway. So I wrote this year’s letter. And then I thought I’d read last year’s letter. And the year before. And the year before that… you get the idea. I started the Christmas letter thing in 2000, so that makes 2005 its 6th installment.

I’d completely forgotten what I wrote in past years. It’s an interesting insight into myself to read them now. Here’s the first one from 2000. Maybe I’ll post the others later sometime.

Silandara�s Christmas Catch-Up Letter
(Limited Edition � post printer accident)

Fine, so I�m pass�.

Writer�s Digest announced that the Christmas catch-up letter has been replaced with one made from mayonnaise. Sorry. A letter from the heart, rather, that shares with one�s friends and relatives something close to the writer � how to make a fake begonia wreath, for instance, a favorite recipe, or how to coach softball.

But while I could include my recipe for stuffed aubergine with wild mushrooms (aubergine is eggplant, for those of you who ne parlez pas francais), I choose not to in favor of boring you to bits with a summary of my year. Besides, I have a good excuse � I can�t find the recipe because I just moved, again, I never did get the hang of softball, and if you saw the Christmas wreath I made for the front door with leftovers from the tree, you wouldn�t want my instructions.

Silandara�s Year In Review

January-February: In January I experienced a temporary lapse of sanity and decided I wanted to not only move back to South Florida (Palm Beach County, no less) but also that I wanted to live with my Mum again. No offense to the woman who struggled to bear and raise me, but while looking back on it I can remember it fondly, I wasn�t too fond of it at the time.

The sentence was for three months, until I�d saved enough money to move to London, England and go back to school to finish my degree in theatre. I laid my plans, gently broke the news to my tearful employer (admit it, Scooter, you miss me), and readied myself for the heat and humidity I�d sworn I would never voluntarily re-enter.

March: Early March involved rehearsals and the production of I Hate Hamlet in which I got all the special effects right on a grand total of one night. It also saw the sudden passing of a much-loved uncle, frenzied packing, the cooking of my own farewell dinner, and driving down to Florida through a massive storm. My everlasting thanks to those who helped me through it.

The day after I landed on the alien peninsula, I had a job interview. After braving the sweltering heat, trapped in my mum�s no-longer-air-conditioned car (the U-haul was still on my truck), while fruitlessly searching for my place of inquisition, I prevailed. And thus I became a full-time web site and graphic designer.

April: Most of April passed without event. I went to the beach on Saturday mornings after usually finding somewhere supposedly exciting to pass Friday night. South Florida certainly has a plethora of clubs, bars and restaurants, but the content is much like that of Bruce Springsteen�s TV. And a skirt is just a skirt when it�s too loud to talk.

Then Halloween came early and a co-worker played cupid and introduced me to a leprechaun. We�re still looking for the pot of gold.

May: In May I went home. For the first time in 11 years, I stood on the soil where I was born and no one asked twice when I ordered a glaahss of waahter. Although everyone there thought I was from Australia (and strangely everyone on this continent has since).

The reason for the trip was to audition at two universities. Which I did. And I saw my Dad and step-Mum and little sister and we all had Sunday dinner together like old times, except this time I ate all my peas. I�m not sure if I can quite describe the feeling of sitting around with family, seeing them live their lives and go forward out of a past I always found very painful, except to say that the sense of loss I felt when Jean-Ma died, and that I feel every time I think of the physical separation I have from my family, especially my brother, was reversed and the feeling filled me full. Perhaps we were all on our best behaviour, but for once, it seemed so NORMAL. And I loved it.

During my time in London, I explored the city somewhat thoroughly, managing to only get lost when I was headed to a particular destination. I successfully navigated both the rail and subway systems (after a couple of teenage schoolgirls showed me how to feed in my subway ticket to get the turnstiles to move). I can�t quite say that I mastered the bus system � I�d find the right bus number, but always got on it going the wrong way. I like to think that I saw more of the city that way. And when do we ever go the way we planned in life? I definitely haven�t this year.

The results of my auditions were that one university accepted me, but the college I really wanted didn�t. And I found out that Her Majesty wasn�t going to grant me a less expensive education for the privilege of being a British Citizen. Oh well. There went that idea. Of course, John (the leprechaun) had no influence at all on that decision. 😉

June: Getting laid-off sucks. Especially when you go in to work on a Monday and are asked with surprise why you�re there, �Didn�t they tell you your last day was Friday?� No �they� didn�t. Go figure. So I went and found another job that paid 30 percent more. But money isn�t everything.

July and August: These months were spent plotting to escape the sunny, humid hell of Florida and the confines of my gloomy cell at American Express. Even standing up and craning my neck over rows of cubes, I couldn�t see outside to at least see if the sea of thousands of cars out there in the parking lot were being pelted by rain or baked by sun. And I must confess that during those grim months I watched Survivor.

September: September! The long-awaited, glorious month of freedom I had anticipated for so long. All hail September! My freedom has come! Well, after exhausting hours of packing and sorting and cleaning and crying in exasperation and frustration and sheer overwhelmedness at all-that-had-to-be-done and the amount-of-time-there-was-to-do-it-in-couldn�t-possibly-be-enough and no-one-has-made-me-a-fantastic-job-offer-yet and I�ve-never-seen-Rochester and how-much-does-it-really-snow-there and I-don�t-know-if-I-want-to-sign-a-year-lease-on-my-own-let-alone-with-someone-else and� But it passed with the days and the boxes were filled and taped and loaded and driven away. As did we.

I got to see the mountains again for a few days. I�d almost forgotten the beauty and wildness. I�d missed them dearly with terrible pangs of homesickness. At first, though, I saw it with flatlander eyes and everything seemed so small and big and up-and-down and all around and how-did-I-drive-on-these-roads-everyday? John sat with eyes wide to the treetops. We were both exhausted from the move and I didn�t get to visit everyone I�d planned to. But I left feeling nourished and renewed enough to complete our journey to a land I�d never been.

In late September we arrived in Rochester, New York. A week or two of searching gave us a place to call home � a 1-bedroom apartment until the complex had something bigger available. The job hunt dragged on � so much for potential employers knocking the door down, trampling over each other in their haste to offer me that wonderful, window-office job that pays so well and is as creative as can be but doesn�t require hours on my bottom in front of a computer screen.

But persistence pays off.

October: Job hunt. Hunt. Hunt. Hunt. Maybe under that rock there? How about that one? A job fair? Why not. I actually bought two suits. And wore pantyhose. And boots ;D

Ooh� I think I feel something pulling on the line� yes, I�ve hooked something� let�s reel it in slowly� I think I�ve got it� ooh� oh� yes! Sure, Monday�s great. I can start Monday.

November: I don�t remember. Numerous trips to New Jersey to visit John�s family. Thanksgiving. Catching a cold. Recovering. Things like that.

December: The closing month of a busy year. We moved again to a 2-bedroom townhouse. We�re still unpacking. The Christmas tree is up, and the decorations needed to win the apartment complex�s holiday light contest have begun to hang themselves in windows and on doors. Today I bought a ladder, which I will climb as soon as it�s not pelting snow or ice when I get home in the cold dark evening after work.

The end of 2000 finds me grateful for another year and all the opportunities to grow and learn that it has brought. I feel even less ready for a new millennium than I was last year, but I think it will take a little time to settle down and get used to my new surroundings. I like this area and I have a lot planned for 2001 � hopefully it will be a year of personal growth and blossoming rather than one of upheaval and trying to decide where to live and what to do and in what direction to take my life.

So there you have it, a year in the life of Silandara. And that�s just the summary. Pass� as the catch-up letter may be, I find it hard enough to keep up with my own life sometimes, let alone let everyone else in on it as well. One of my New Year�s resolutions is to keep in touch with the people in my life. You do the same.

One other thing I should mention � I�m also notoriously bad about reading the magazines I subscribe to within any kind of reasonable time frame � the Writer�s Digest issue I just read was dated Nov. 1999. So maybe I�m back in style already. Or, like usual, ahead of the pack as everything goes in cycles.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, a Joyful Yuletide and Solstice. May the blessings of the earth be upon you and yours.