The Christmas Letter

Ah, the annual Christmas letter, subject of so much derision.  I actually started sending one 12 years ago, ignoring the negative press.   I reasoned that  if I loved getting them from people, it was okay to send one, too. Since then, I’ve received a lot of positive comments, and people who get them one year and not the next (I usually don’t send them to folks we’ve seen through the year and who generally know what is up with us) often ask where theirs is.  So I persist. (But then, I also sometimes make Christmas fruitcake, so I may be the ultimate Christmas contrarian.  Or Cliche.  Or contrarian cliche.  Anywho…)


The rap on the Christmas letter is generally two-fold.  One is its impersonal nature, which I have to admit does give me pause–though in the age of the word-processing, it seems just a little crazy to write the same thing over and over. The other is its relentlessly positive spin. (Though we do have one friend who writes a consistently noirish Christmas letter, which is hilarious and just a tiny bit creepy.) Anyway, some really sad things did happen this year, including the passing of our family friend, Michelle Wilson, which was hard for all of us, and particularly so for Kate.  Bill and I both endured predictable business challenges.  Kate and I wrestled with transitions.  But hey.  That’s life.  And if our stories define us, then there are worse things to do than look back at the end of year at all the good things that have happened.


And so, without further pre-amble, here is this year’s entry.


December 5, 2006

Dear Family and Friends,

Happy Holidays.  Here in the Northeast, it’s been a little difficult getting into the spirit, since we haven’t even had to wear our winter coats yet.  (And yes, we do realize how annoying that statement must be to family and friends in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest.) None-the-less, we are baking cookies, putting up decorations and generally carrying on, because we know the days are flying by and the holidays will be upon us, even if the temperature outside indicates otherwise.

We have had an eventful year, indeed.  Kate returned from Australia last December as a very happy Christmas surprise for her Mom.  She graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in English in May.  Now she is living in Soho and working five minutes away from her apartment at a small marketing firm called Creativ & Company.  In typical Kate fashion, she went to New York on a Tuesday, interviewed for the job she would get on Wednesday, found a friend of a friend to room with on Friday and an apartment on Saturday.  Of course, her apartment is the size of a dinner plate (you literally have to back into the WC, because there is no room, um, to turn around in there), but she is loving every minute of her New York adventure.

Rob is also still in New York, living in a really great brownstone in the Sunset Park area in Brooklyn and working as the production manager at Leaders magazine, a publication so exclusive you don’t subscribe, you have to apply.  This job represents a huge step up in responsibility for him and he is daily wrestling with software and design challenges, but is enjoying himself along the way. The most hilarious part for his family is that he has to wear a suit and tie to work everyday.  Quite a change from the look he was sporting when he came off the Appalachian Trail last year!  He and long-time girlfriend Sunny Basham are really taking advantage of being in the city, visiting landmarks and museums, trying different restaurants, and even volunteering at the Park Slope co-op.

Bill is, as you might imagine, very happy with the mid-term election results, particularly because software from his company, Sage Systems, powered successful grassroots campaigns in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Massachusetts and several other states.  He was working 24/7 right up through Election Day, and I can’t say much has changed since. But I do know how things are with a start-up at this stage (and yes, it does feel like some sort of cosmic payback).

As for me, we completed the sale of WebCT to Blackboard, Inc. in February and I stayed on for six months of “transition” until the end of August.  Since then, I have been mostly goofing around, writing, cleaning out closets and generally whittling away at the list of things I was going to do when “I had the time.”  In November, my short story, “Winter Rental,” was published in Seasmoke, an anthology of short stories by New England writers. It is amazing to me that I started this Christmas letter when I was on a break between Information Mapping and WebCT twelve years ago.  Now here I am again, and still no idea what I want to be when I grow up.

The extended family is well. Rip and Ann’s son Hume graduated from George Washington University in May (same weekend as Kate) with a degree in civil engineering.  He is living in northern Virginia and working in a prestigious management training program.  Like me, Ann is on a work hiatus, which led Bill to point out that though the young graduates are getting jobs, the older generation seems to be giving them up, proportionately—a bit of a zero sum game.

Our house in Somerville is finally done—or as “done” as anyone else’s house.  This year we completed the landscaping, so we are quite settled in, tucked up for the winter and wondering what the future will bring.

We hope this letter finds you all well and you have a wonderful holiday season. We close once again with hopes for peace.

Bill & Barb

One thought on “The Christmas Letter

  1. Barb:
    I love your blog, particularly your Christmas newsletter. I have been sending them for 19 years, hear of others who hate them, but the year I stopped everyone asked what happened. I guess there’s a difference between a newsletter sent by a writer and one sent by the general populous.

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