The Christmas Letter

My desk is a disaster area. 

Now for those of you who intimately know me, this is not exactly a news event. My ability to stay organized in my head, depends on where I “see things” on my desk (or any other flat area in our home, for that matter!) 

Don’t get the Princess started on this endearing habit of mine. She’s threatened to divorce me many times over. 

And we are not even married.

I don’t know how my teaching assistants put up with me all those years, but they did and here I am today: retired with a desktop that you can barely see.

So, I woke up at 5 this morning and told myself that I wanted a small Xmas tree in the corner of my room, but I wasn’t going to put it up until I cleaned off my desk top.

Being the person that I am, though, I couldn’t start with the offending piece of furniture that needed organizing the most.


I needed to start way to hell over at the other end of the room with my bookshelf. A bookshelf, mind you, that has more stuff on it and in it than books.

An hour into the dusting and organizing, I came across a folded up letter that was dated December 13, 2007. A Christmas letter addressed to my Mom, written by me, that my sister-in-law must have found in my mother’s belongings when she died and gave to me with some other mementos that I had stored away in 2018.

I should be ashamed to say this, but I’m thinking it’s probably been 2 years since I’ve dusted this particular piece of furniture. My Mother is in heaven chuckling right now because she, of all people, knew how I loathed dusting. 

I could never, for the life of me, understand how as a youngster it was one of MYresponsibilities to do and not one of my BROTHER’S responsibilities. I would have gladly taken out the garbage once a week rather than had the job of dusting the furniture.

Guess my Mother never quite grasped the concept of “gender neutral jobs” in the 60’s.

But I digress.

In the letter I told my mother, “You’ve brought me much laughter, much joy and much love. You’ve taught me to be a woman of honesty and integrity; my morals and values of life are your morals and values. You’ve taught me to be loving and kind and accepting; and above all else you’ve taught me the value of friendship and how important family and friends are in our life.

I went on to write that “it is not the money that we’ve made or how many degrees we have that will define our self worth, but how much we’ve loved and how much we are loved that will matter most when it is time for us to leave.”

My letter ended telling my Mom that she “was so very rich in friends and love of family and [more importantly] in the knowledge of what is truly important in life.”

I pray that with the coming New Year that I take the words that I said to my Mother and use them (to heal) in my own life.

I, like many in the country and world, have had a challenging four years since our last Presidential election. 

And I’m tired.

Tired of the vitriol. Tired of the hatred. Tired of the threats.

We need to heal.  (I need to heal.)

And what’s more important is that we need to talk to each other and be heard. Heard not as black people, or gay people, or Republicans or Democrats. 

But simply as people; as caring, loving people.

My tree finally got put up. Unfortunately, my desk is still a mess. 

But it’s ok, because it was important for me today to share my mother’s letter, to share my mother’s wisdom.

I sincerely wish for you a safe, joyful holiday season and a happy, healthy New Year and I’ll see you in 2021, looking at life from my shoes.