The Letter!

December 28, 2012

My husband and I are so fortunate.  We are blessed with many friends and we receive tons of Christmas cards.  Occasionally we even receive cards from people we have never actually met.  Ever.   One man from Colorado used to send Tom and me a card every year.  The cover was always a photo of him in front of his Mountain McMansion.  His accessories changed each year, but the sprawl was always the backdrop. One year he was seated in a James Bond type red European convertible which was tethered to a real live fairly unhappy looking reindeer.  He was flanked by affectionate buxom women dressed in provocative Christmas themed costumes.  That year, the card read, “Sometimes a sleigh just won’t do.  Merry Christmas from L________________.”  The photo shoot alone probably cost thousand s of dollars if you don’t count the car.  If you count the car, it cost a few hundred thousand dollars.  We are fairly certain that he is a lawyer who got our name and address from a lawyer list that includes my husband and about a million other lawyers around the country.  We have not heard from L_____________ in years and sort of wonder what happened to him.  It is sort of sad.  That party is over, but we do get cards and letters from dear friends and casual acquaintances.  Ah yes, the Christmas letter.  You know what I am talking about.  Some gently bring you up to date on the location and station of their flock.  They usually include a few handwritten personal words directed at you.  We love these letters, for they keep us in the loop and make us feel special to be included in the list. Then, there are the others.  You know the ones I mean.  The missals of pomp and rub-your-nose-in-our-good-fortune ones.  They usually gloat about expensive travels, promotions, awards, Ivy League schools, accomplishments, blah, blah, blah.  Exclamation points litter the page…

“Biff just finished his third year at Harvard and, what do you know? He once again did it on a full academic scholarship!   Good thing because we used his college money to once again visit our favorite little private island off the coast of South Africa!  We love it there and the staff at the hotel has become our second family, so here we go again! “   Blah blah blah.

Some read more like a resume than a letter and they make the reader feel bad about his or her own life just by comparison.  Have you noticed that you never get those letters from people who communicate the realities of life.   Of course not.  Where’s the fun in that?  Actually, it could be fun for the reader.  It would be a gift from the sender, for it would be their way of letting you know that your life is not so bad after all.  In my dreams, the letter reads like this.

“ Merry Christmas or whatever!  Our year has been challenging, but we just keep smiling!  The Effexor helps a lot!  Things are crazy around here and so is most of THE FAMILY!  Jr. Boy dropped out of LSU…again!  Can you believe it?  Even after all those strings his Pappy had to pull to get him admitted in the first place!  No more college tuition for us for a while!  No sireee!   That money and Jr. Boy will both be going to better use at The Betty Ford Center!  We are optimistic this time!

Our darling daughter Betsy graduated high school (a miracle) and announced her pregnancy (not so shocking actually) all in the same day!  Crazy huh?  Yup!  She isn’t positive of the babydaddy, but she is positive that she wants us to raise it for her!  Wow!  Keeping it ALL IN THE FAMILY!  Just thinking about it makes me want to have a drink, but my sponsor says that I have to go to a meeting instead! 

We moved into a new home this year, as most of you know. It is smaller, but WE ARE FAM-I-LY  so it’s all good!  The best news is that the bankruptcy thing is going smooothly.  No more pesky phone calls!  Ha!

And more good news!  The charges against Bob have been dropped!  It turns out that the woman in question is 18 years old after all!  Wow! Crazy huh?  The main thing is that Pappy was able to keep this too out of the paper.  What would we do without that man, huh?  He is a blessing to us all!  And we AS A FAMILY, have decided that if he wants to wear fish nets around the house, so be it!  And if his new assistant, Steve, wants to move in to keep a better eye on him, so be it!  You won’t be hearing about it from us!  Whew!  Crazy huh?

So have a Merry Christmas, and remember this:  No matter how dreary you day seems, ours is worse!  Happy New Year too!



December 10, 2012


Going to the grocery store is not my favorite chore, much due to the fact that I have never found a local grocer that meets all my needs.  Don’t get me wrong.  I absolutely adore my little neighborhood store as well as my local famer’s market, but even together they cannot meet all my culinary and domestic needs.  And guess what? The older I get, the more I need…. or at least…. want.  OK, I admit it.  I want the grocery shopping task to be “an experience” from the minute I enter the property.   I want super clean surfaces that have no cracks or stains on them.  I want landscaping and a parking lot free of renegade carts.  I want a large variety of fresh foods and a tiny spattering of processed foods. I want the store employees to speak in complete sentences.  I want complimentary coffee and real half and half in a little pitcher next to a little chalk board that tells me what flavor the coffee is.  And I want gentle instrumental music to dance me through the quaint little aisles. In the town where I live, we have several grocery stores that meet some of my needs, but none of them meets all of them.  In order to find my perfect grocery shopping experience, I have to drive a distance not so convenient when dinner is due in an hour.  So what’s a girl to do?  Well, I go to the store that has the largest collection of the things I buy over and over.  It has no music, the aesthetics are utilitarian to say the least, and there is not a single tree shading the asphalt upon which I sweat as I load ice cream and milk into my car in the summer.  Although all of the employees are pleasant and helpful, they often seem somewhat sad to be there. Sadly, this store does not have everything I yearn for in a grocery store.  What this store does have, however, the one thing that I look forward to seeing every time I go, the single element that gives my shopping task a little kick is a woman named Shirletha.

Shirletha is my favorite cashier.  She is young and cheerful.  She remembers my name and is quick to remind the bagger that I bring my own bags.  She remembers that every time!  During football season, she wears Saints regalia and during Mardi Gras she always has a colorful moat of beads dangling around her neck echoing her movie star smile.

“Hey Miss Donnaaaaaa!” she will yell to me from register #3 as I cruise the lanes of cashiers seeking her out.  I will wait in her long line rather than leapfrog to another because I know that she is sincerely happy to see me.  Then when I begin placing my items on the belt, she will put a hand on her hip and proclaim something supportive such as, “ I sure do like your short haircut!  I love it, but I wouldn’t have the nerve to go so short.  It sure looks good on you though.  Sassy! ”

Then she will shoot me a million dollar smile and toss in a wink for good measure. Yesterday she was wearing a pair of reindeer antlers on her head.  When I gave her and her antlers an approving nod, she put her hands on her head and wiggled them as if they were waving to me.  Yesssirree.   Shirletha is Mr. Rogers, Minnie Pearl, and Whoopie Goldberg all wrapped up in one person.  She is probably the reason that other resigned shoppers regularly grace the door of her employer.  We could go somewhere else that is not as expensive, or is closer to home, or smaller, or lots of things.  But we keep going back to her store because sometimes, antlers make all the difference.  So here’s to you, Shirletha.   Merry Christmas, and thank you for injecting a little zest into my days of many errands.  Keep it up my dear, for you are doing a gentle service to all of us who keep coming back to your store in spite of a host of logical reasons not to.  Yes ma’am.  You are doing a sterling job, even if some days it may seem just a little less than what you had hoped for.