The Christmas Letter

I’ve always been amazed and slightly jealous of people that take the time to send out Christmas cards every year. First of all, they seem so old fashioned in this day of electronic mail, various social media networks, and the ability to send a picture in seconds with a text.

Seriously, if you know someone and have their number, you could get the family together, take a quick pic, and voila, send that pic to a bunch of people on a group text along with a jolly “Merry Christmas from all of us!” You could even get all Christmassy about it and have everybody in the picture in red and black flannel pajamas around the tree. Can’t get little Johnny to smile? Just photo shop his smiling head from last summers beach photos onto his pajama clad body, and everyone’s happy.

Aren’t these people and those pajamas adorable? That’s not us. I have no idea who these people are.

Even though electronics give us the ability to streamline the whole Christmas info process, I’m sure we will receive Christmas cards the old fashioned way, through the U.S. Postal Service, from a bunch of our friends. I will enjoy looking at and reading those cards, but they will also make me feel a little guilty. The Dan Cole family has never been a Christmas card sending family, and that is probably never gonna change. We don’t even own pajamas. So, before the Christmas season even starts, let me take a little time to say this.

Thanks for all the cards. They’re amazing. We’re not worthy. Once again, sorry, you won’t be getting one from us. If you do receive a Christmas card from us, like one with us gathered around the tree in red flannel pajamas looking all happy (and with Travis’s face suspiciously tan) or maybe a picture of us out in the forest with a recently felled Douglas fir, it ain’t us. You’ve been hacked. Or we’ve been hacked. Actually, I don’t think you can hack regular mail, so I’m not sure what would’ve happened there. Anyhoo, Merry Christmas from the Coles! Here’s a picture of my dog in antlers! (She’s not happy about it. What ya gonna do?)img_0422.jpg

I’m even more amazed when people not only take the time to send out a card with a photo, but also enclose a letter with the highlights, (or lowlights) of the past year in their families history. I honestly look forward to the letters, and not for just the information value. They are usually pretty entertaining! Most are just a rundown of the years events, but some can be on the extreme of really good stuff or really bad stuff.

The Christmas letter that details all the deaths and hospitalizations in the family can be a bit of a downer. The letter lets you know that Jesus finally called home Grampa Bob, and Uncle Lou had his goiter removed. (I almost titled this blog “Uncle Lou’s Goiter” but thought that would be a little too weird. A great band name, though. Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Uncle Lou’s Goiter!). Sometimes those letters have so many deaths and hospitalizations that you wonder who’s left to write the letter. Letters like that will leave you feeling a little better about your own situation on this spinning blue orb, like, “Man, I thought my life sucked! The (Enter family name here) have had a rough year! What the hell’s a goiter?”

The other extreme of these letters are the ones that humble brag all the way through. You hear all about how the kids Muffy and Chip spent their summer at riding camp in the south of France. And while the children were at camp, the parents took advantage of their free time to climb Everest. (“We summited on a beautiful June morning, had a quick cappuccino, and made our way down. Only three Sherpas died getting the espresso machine over Hillary’s Step!”) These letters always make me feel a little inadequate, like my life goals are falling a bit short.

Me-Hey honey, I just got all the leaves picked up!

Holly- The Andersons climbed Everest again.

Me- Shit.

So, without further ado, the following bunch of words is going to be what passes as the Cole family Christmas letter, a breakdown on how things are going with us, but without pajama pictures or tree pictures or any mention of anything even remotely resembling a goiter.

Humble brag section

Jeff, Kristina and Travis are all doing very well at their jobs. Jeff was recently moved to 1st shift as a team leader at Gentex, Kristina works as a medical coder and is taking classes for her masters in hospital administration, and Travis is in management training at Convoy. All three are doing very well, and we’re very proud of them. Travis will be coming home soon to attend his cousin Alexa’s wedding in January, and we are all looking forward to seeing him again. He is missed terribly.

Holly continues to grow her business, but it takes time. Come see her for all your insurance needs.

My job? I’ve sent in quite a few articles to, and this month they’ve decided to highlight a number of my articles on depression and cancer. Here’s a link. It’s still a little weird to see an email blast sent out to all the subscribers with an article with my name on it. It’s both humbling and gratifying.

My other job? Who cares.

Uncle Lou Goiter Section

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. My health this year could be described as “steady as she goes”. I’m taking Xtandi and getting Lupron shots to keep my PSA down, which is working but leaves me tired and a bit sad. There’s always an ongoing balancing act with treating the disease and making sure I can handle the treatments. My PSA has inched up a bit lately, so my oncologist wants to up my dose of daily Xtandi. Stay tuned on how that goes. Yuck.

As most of you know, my Mom passed away this past June. We all miss Grandma, but sometimes I feel a little guilty that I don’t miss her enough. I know the holidays are supposed to be rough that first time around with the passing of a loved one, but, to be honest, I don’t really feel that bad about it. First off, my mother was a true Christian woman, and that blessed assurance gives me a peace of mind that she is in a place of great love and happiness. Second, she had been suffering from the effects of dementia for a number of years, so her passing felt more like a transition to a much better place.

I’m curious how many of you had a similar reaction when the person that was close to you dies from Alzheimer’s or dementia. It’s like, you miss them, but honestly, the person you miss has actually been gone for awhile.

My dad has moved from his condo to an assisted living facility, and that transition has gone very well. Big thanks to the Paul Cole family on all the heavy lifting in making that happen.

Well, that about wraps it up for the first Christmas letter I’ve ever written. There’s more to tell, but I spent a bunch of words describing the process and trying to be funny. Hey, it’s Fishrocks. It’s what I do.

Merry Christmas!

Thanks for reading.

Peace (on Earth)

2 thoughts on “The Christmas Letter

  1. Hi I am John’s wife, Kathleen. John has PC and is hanging in there. I just wanna say that I loved the Christmas letter. You are hilarious. Well done for writing a Christmas letter, while taking the piss out of Christmas Letters. I may use yours as a template, if I ever get around to writing one. Lastly, wanna say my Mom died 2 years ago, and yes, I too, felt she had been taken years before her death, by Alzheimers, so, yes, I feel the same (though without your faith), that she is free from that torment and in peace. Keep on writing. I love your way of looking at and describing life/the world. Peace back to you. Kathleen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “…while taking the piss out of Christmas letters.” That wins the prize for the best comment Fishrocks has ever received. Thank you! Also, yes, Alzheimer’s is such a tragic and heartbreaking disease that when the person you love passes, it feels like a relief. It’s hard to admit that. Thanks for the words of encouragement. Very much appreciated and my plan is to keep writing for as long as I can.


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