Posted by: Sue D. Gelber | January 3, 2012

The Holiday Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

Thanks so much for all your Holiday cards and letters! It is so nice to catch up on what everyone did in 2011. I love reading updates from friends, family, neighbors, friends of family, family of friends, neighbors of family friends, colleagues, that gal from the temp agency who I worked with for two weeks several decades ago, the dentist, the vet, that couple we met once at a wedding, a random stranger, and so many more. It’s especially nice to see the photos of people’s new additions. I didn’t know our pharmacist had gotten a new pet gecko! How did I miss that?

I was so inspired by your letters that I decided to do my own recap of 2011. How fun! Of course, I’ve never done one before, so I’m going to use the random stranger’s letter as a template.

Random Stranger wrote: “We kicked off 2011 by ringing in the New Year in Paris! And to top it off, we had ten other couples, plus my entire family, even the cousins, flown over just to celebrate with us! Fun! Not only did we have great company, but we had amazing food. Of course! It’s Paris! A five course meal, topped off with a champagne toast. Decadent and delicious. That led to my first resolution of 2011 – to go on a diet! And then, on New Years Day, I woke up to a view of the Eiffel Tower from the window of our suite. It was fabulous!”

Almost just like mine! Our 2011 got off to a great start when we planned to spend the night ringing in the New Year with friends, only to find that all our friends had other plans. Then I found out there was a big party at our neighbors house. Fun! But we hadn’t made the list. Rats!

Anyway, we made up for it by watching Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve. On our couch. With a snoring, flatulent dog sprawled next to us. What’s more, we had almost no food in the house. Some expired milk. Questionable eggs. Salami from late 2009.  I imagined all kinds of goodies being served right up the road. Mini crab cakes! Scallops wrapped in bacon! I thought about sneaking in and stealing some. Of course, a more practical – and legal – solution would be to learn to make my own mini crab cakes. Guess that’s my first resolution for 2011.

Anyway, it was still a great night because I said “Forget this,” went to bed early, and got a decent night’s sleep. It was fabulous!

Random Stranger’s letter: “January found me in a yoga retreat in India searching for enlightenment. It was amazing! Inspiring! Life changing! I learned so much. And you know what? All of it was within me already, waiting to be revealed.”

My January was just like that too! Only I spent most of my time in Walgreens searching for cold medicine. That Robitussin was life changing! It was even inspiring – when taken with red wine. I learned so much, like the difference between an expectorant and a suppressant, and which brand of tissues with skin-softening lotion are best. Plus, I discovered that Walgreens plays really great music. I think that knowledge was within me already. I just needed to hear Karma Chameleon one more time in order for it to be revealed.

Random Stranger’s letter: “February was spent meditating. March was spent being mindful and joyous.”

February was spent shoveling snow. March was spent wallowing in depression, broken up by intervals of bitterness.

Random Stranger: “Spring found us off the coast of Fiji on an island so exclusive I’m actually not allowed to mention it’s name! Every afternoon my new friend (Alec Baldwin) and I had cocktails made with fresh-squeezed starfruit juice as we watched the kids taking private scuba diving lessons in the crystal blue waters.”

We went on vacation in the spring too! We went to Texas, which is a lot like Fiji. Of course, I can’t tell you where we went because it’s so exclusive (rhymes with San Ansmonio). Every afternoon my friend Beth and I had freshly-uncorked wine as we watched our kids nearly drown each other in the chlorinated mostly-blue water.

Random Stranger: “We welcomed summer by visiting friends in the Hamptons. We spent our days hitting some of the fabulous boutiques in town, and then at night we had gourmet meals cooked by a professional chef, served on our friends’ yacht, The Genevieve. Our friends’ neighbors, like Sarah-Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, joined us. Some nights we had up to 30 people there, but The Genevieve had room for all of us!”

We welcomed summer by having friends visit us in Montana. We spent our days shopping at Walmart and at night we had hot dogs and potato chips on the deck (or The Deck, as we call it). Unfortunately, The Deck is only about ten feet wide, so we couldn’t all sit at the same time. We fed the kids in shifts and then told them to play in the woods. Until, that is, they reminded us about the bears. For a while, we worried that we’d lost a kid or two, but they all turned up eventually. Like cats show up when you open that can of food, so do kids show up when you open the bag of marshmallows for s’mores.

Random Stranger: “September found us dropping our eldest off at Harvard! Can you believe it? It seems like just yesterday his Montessori teacher told me at our parent-teacher conference that he was a gifted child, with a creative drive and a photographic memory. She also pointed out his compassion and his leadership skills. And it turns out, she was right.”

September found us covering our ears to block out the sound of the kids’ incessant complaining about homework. During our five-minute parent-teacher conferences, we learned so much. Like the teacher’s name, and what class he/she taught. Then the bell rang and it was time to move on.

Random Stranger: “October was a blur of meetings and deadlines. But I never forgot what was most important: making time for family and friends.”

October was a blur of orthodontist appointments and laundry. But I never forgot what was most important: figuring out what was for dinner.

Random Stranger: “In November I ran for City Council! It was a huge challenge, but I’m so grateful to my grass-roots organizers for their help and I look forward to my time as a public servant!”

In November, I tried to use the word ‘defenestration’ in a sentence. It’s harder than you’d think.

Random Stranger: “And that brings us to December! A week in Chamonix skiing with the family, followed by New Year’s Eve in Barcelona! 2011 has been an almost perfect year and I just can’t wait to see what 2012 has in store!”

And that brings us to December! We hit the slopes, too, and in my case, I hit them pretty hard – while falling. Repeatedly. For New Year’s, we once again sat by ourselves watching Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve. But this time around I was more prepared. I had chips AND salsa ready to go. I still haven’t learned how to make my own mini crab cakes, though. Maybe in 2012.

Happy New Year!


  1. Best New Year’s Letter, ever. Merry, Happy to you too, Sue.

  2. Sorry you didn’t make the neighbor cut – maybe a blessing in disguise. I would have invited you to my party: Chinese take-out and the new Conan the Barbarian on DVD!!

  3. That was laugh-out-loud funny! Now, must look up “defenestration” – it’s been so long since I’ve used it that I’ve forgotten it’s meaning! Happy New Year!

  4. Loved the letter. I have no idea what defenestration means and I do not plan to find out! And mini crab cakes are best purchased in bulk at Costco!!!

  5. This is one of your best—laughing all the while reading!!!

  6. Funny stuff. I just used “defenestration” in Scrabble and got like 759 points! Thanks!

  7. Love this. Happy New Year, Sue. I look forward to more of your adventures in 2012.

    There’s a random song by Thunder Power (not even a one-hit wonder) called “Lucky to Be Alive” that uses “defenestrate” – I love the song. (about 1:15 in).

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