I haven’t sent out Christmas cards since before I had cancer in 2007. It didn’t seem right to send out forced-smile photos of my traumatized kids and say, “Happy holidays from the Singers!” when really, it should have read, “We’re not sure if Mom’s gonna make it. Um, Merry Christmas?”
But why not pick up where I left off in 2006 and send out pictures of my family in a studio with the right lighting (been there) and perfect outfits (done that) and fake snow (and that)? Because the stylized, hair-sprayed version of our family’s past year would fail to capture what really mattered in our house this year — or any year.
This year, we went to Playa del Carmen, made the varsity cross country team, and scored a gorgeous goal from 20 yards out. But really, that’s not all that impressive. What’s impressive is what we endured, survived, and supported each other through despite it all.
We broke the weed whacker, yanked up our awful, 40-year-old, peach-colored carpet, and snaked our clogged sinks –three of them – without a plumber.
We slammed doors, traipsed dirt through the kitchen, and, when no one was looking, ate the last piece of coffee cake.
We grieved for lost friendships while strengthening others.
We got a divorce.
We built a deck, wrote a book, and lost three soccer balls in the woods.
We got a new backyard neighbor – a red fox who settled the debate on whether to let our cat outside.
We yelled at each other, cried in front of each other, and we pretended to listen to one another while texting someone else.
We fell asleep during movies, lost an unusually large quantity of socks, and let the neighborhood kids eat our snacks.
We made tough decisions. Also, Thanksgiving dinner.
We became Facebook friends with each other, and Instagrammed the cat, because he’s exceptionally cute when he sleeps.
We had lunch in Chinatown and gelato in Little Italy on the same day.
We paid the mortgage, filled a cavity, and signed up for COBRA.
We practiced driving at dusk.
We bought a snow globe with a mummified shrunken head in it, and a sign that reads, “Soccer Mom Parking Only.”
We cleared snow from the driveway, brought in the groceries, and stayed up til 1 a.m., talking.
We held back tears until they wouldn’t stand to be held back anymore, and then we hugged each other, sobbing.
We said, “I love you.” And we meant it.
We went through hell and back and yet, we’re still here. We made it through another year, and we’re stronger for it. Thanks to the good and the bad, we’re better equipped for the next year — and all the years ahead.
So if you’re looking for holiday wishes from us this year, this is it. This is what we’ve got. We do, truly, wish you Happy Holidays, whether you were here for the good or the bad, or the good and the bad. So Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and a best of whatever you celebrate. Most of all, give a little attention to whatever happened this year and let it know you’re here for it, all of it. Because it’s what makes you who you are and what your friends and family love about you.