Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My Christmas Letter

We send out about 60 cards this time year, wishing folks a joyous holiday and Happy New Year. I write personal notes in some cards, particularly to those folks whom I haven't seen in some time, or am not friends with on Facebook.

I enjoy remembering these people with kindness and love, sometimes with a story or a prayer when I think of them. However, we do not send out a holiday letter. My husband hates them and shudders at the mere mention of one. He doesn't read the ones we receive, though I do. I don't mind them. I like knowing how folks are doing and what they are up too, even if half the time I don't know who or what they're talking about.

Most folks know I am a writer of sorts, so I occasionally am asked why I don't send out something with my cards. The above would be the reason - I don't override my husband's protests (except on really important matters). The other is, I don't think we're that interesting. But if I had written a letter to stick in the cards (which have all gone out in the mail), it would have read something like this:

The year's nearly over, time's running out quick
It's been 18 months now since Anita's been sick.
It's been a rough time for this Firebaugh clan.
The summer went sour when James injured his hand.
He fought the hay baler like a knight on a steed,
but had to cry, "uncle" when the thing made him bleed.
His angel was watching, the doc saved his arm
by September he was back working the farm.
For six months, physical therapy filled up their time.
"Growing old sucks," Anita's been heard to opine.
She uses a cane now, thanks to a bad foot
And while she's still writing, she's not touched her book.
They both have gray hair, (what hair James may have)
and each morning starts out with some smelly joint salve.
Such creaking and groaning, these two when they rise
they sound like Rice Crispies, that childhood surprise.
Though the year's been a hard one, they put on bright smiles
and send you good wishes from across the miles.

Happy Holidays, whatever you do,
may your upcoming year be the best one for you.

Or maybe I could have written something like this:

Dear Friends and Loved Ones,

What a year we've had! James, as most of you know, caught his hand and arm in a hay baler on July 5. I will never forget that awful day, the way he drove himself home on the utility vehicle and then told me he'd just "cut himself" and needed stitches at the Daleville urgent care. The look on the poor doctor's face when we removed the old sheet James had wrapped around his arm would have been laughable had I not at that moment realized the extent of the injury. Needless to say, the doctor called an ambulance.

After two surgeries and five days in the hospital, James came home. I have to give a big shout-out and thank you to my brother, who was very helpful throughout this ordeal. He even changed the hot water heater elements for us, which unfortunately went out on the day James came home (and he was so longing for a shower, poor man!). Also many of you (you know who you are!) stepped forward to lend a hand, either helping with farm chores or bringing us a meal. I'm grateful.

James was housebound most of the summer - and that is not a good thing for a plow boy, I must say. He was diligent with his physical therapy, though, and was soon back at work. I am happy to report that he has recovered most of the function of his hand. He grinned from ear to ear just this past week when he was able to work the throttle and brake on his motorcycle. Oh happy day!

As for me, in January I went to UVA for my abdominal pain, but no one had any advice except to find a pain specialist. I had a CT Scan in the spring, which showed nothing, and a visit with a local surgeon produced no tangible results, either. An endoscopy in September indicated that my multiple bleeding ulcers (diagnosed in October 2013) were better. Though not quite healed, they certainly were no longer the concern they were the previous fall. That was my personal best news all year (James' recovery, of course, took the cake.)

I began physical therapy in April, and have been going consistently since August (there was a break there when James was hurt, of course). The PT has helped a little, but unfortunately, I developed a weird issue with my right foot. (Of course it's a weird issue, it's me!) My gait changed, and my foot turned outward. One theory is the adhesions in my abdomen (that's what the diagnosis on the pain is, scar tissue build-up) pulled my pelvis out of alignment, causing me to walk incorrectly on my foot and ankle and damage a tendon. I see a specialist on December 31 about that. Way to start the New Year, eh?

I also went to UNC in August for additional diagnosis on the belly pain. UNC has a Women's Hospital and I had no idea they had such a huge facility there. They couldn't help, either, though.

The cows are good - James likes the new paddocks and water troughs he installed the summer of 2013. That is working well for him. He continues to stay busy with not only the farm but also his septic tank installation work and his work at the fire department. He would like to retire from the fire department soon, but like most folks have found, health insurance is an issue.

I enjoy watching the deer out the window. Sometimes they come right up and look in the house. They are curious animals. I have also been doing a lot of reading. Current events make me sad.

The rest of the family is well. As far as I know, both of our immediate families are doing okay. We're very proud of nephews and our niece. They are growing up to be fine young people.

Hope your year has been blessed and wonderful, and that 2015 is a joyous one for you.

The Firebaughs

Anyway, that's why we don't send out letters in our Christmas cards.


  1. Well, we both DO enjoy the Christmas letters, and we send one to those we aren't in touch with for most of the year. We leave out aches and pains, though, unless one of us had something serious. I didn't do a letter one year, and several people got in touch to say they really missed our news, so (boring as it may be) I do one each year. We send around 120 cards and I put a letter in about half of those. Frankly, I would have been happy getting either of your letters. It lets me know how you are doing and what I can pray for (and how I can help, even). Thanks for sharing your news, as it might have gone out in your cards!!

  2. I would rather have been able to write a letter leaving out the health issues, but unfortunately, our year has mostly been about health issues. Maybe next year's letter will have a little more "up-ness" to it.

  3. I don't send out a letter, but we have some friends who do one every year to a Christmas carol. Always interesting.

  4. good letter wishing you blessings n 2015 !!

  5. I have sent letters some years and not bothered most, but I do like hearing from friends I haven't seen or heard from in a while. I did writer out a few long letters to a select few on my Christmas card list. I got about half mine sent out on Monday and need to finish the rest over the weekend. I am so behind this year!


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