Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The super honest Christmas catch-up email

Dear beloved family and friends in my contact list (as well as all you others who I haven’t had time to delete from my address book, like my real estate agent and the last literary agent who rejected me – no hard feelings)

Sorry (again!) for the delay in sending you this Christmas email, but life has been so busy lately, as it has been for the past seventeen years. To save time, I could have just sent one of those electronic Christmas cards, but it would have been too impersonal. I could have gathered my family members around to photograph them forming the words M-E-R-R-Y  X-M-A-S with our arms and legs, but I’m not as flexible since I gave up yoga. Not to mention the fact that I probably don’t have enough family here in faraway New Zealand to get past M-E.

Most years I enjoy making you all jealous by writing about how we spent Christmas Eve on the beach, lying around in bikinis, frolicking in the warm shark-free water and picnicking on quesadillas and watermelon, while all of you poor souls are wearing three layers of socks, eating pumpkin and possibly even going to church. However, you’ll be happy to know that since then we’ve had nothing but rain. Our roof is leaking. The laundry takes days to dry. At least I’m getting really good at electrocuting flies with our swatting racquet.

But that’s an exciting sneak peek at next year’s catch-up email, and I really should just stick with what’s happened in the year that’s just ended.

Firstly, the little man has grown gigantic, but because he’s still three, he still likes to be carried. For someone as petite as me to lug him all over the supermarket or the zoo like that, with his arms wrapped tightly around my neck and his legs reaching past my knees and me huffing from the exertion, I look like a normal-sized woman rescuing a seven-year-old from a burning house. To ingratiate himself into being carted around, he tells me how beautiful I am. His father has taught him well.

In fact, this year our little boy has truly mastered verbal expression. But he’s still a bit confused about his bilingualness. Though born a Kiwi, the half-Irish half-American boy speaks Italian as his mother tongue: still, he insists that he speaks Spanish. “Pick Panish,” he says, and he won’t be contradicted.

I know most of you are bored silly with all this talk about our perfectly developing offspring, but this is a cheery Yuletide email so there won’t be any mention of the lack of parental supervision that led to our son wrapping himself in toilet paper, eating a cup of flour in the nude and painting his entire body and face with markers. For obvious reasons, I’m leaving out those pictures.

In fact, you’ll see from the attached photos that we have had an absolute fabulous year engaging in all sorts of healthy activities only made possible by living in paradise on earth: counting starfish on a black-sand beach, biking around a swan-filled lake, baking cinnamon raisin bread in the nude. Hope that doesn't make you too jealous. So that you won’t worry about us, I’ll leave out all the sour notes like our lost pregnancy, financial straits, and the kicking and biting fits (including our little boy’s). I won’t even start about the rising cost of cheese.

To save myself time, and you grief, I’ll sum up the first half of the year into a haiku:

new job, new band for Pops
no fear skinny-dipping
in post-tsunami swell

The second half of 2011 was exciting enough for prose. Some of you may not be aware that a flashing incident in a Washington D.C. park a year ago led to free flights for me and the little man to travel back to my hometown to testify against a pitiful one-eyed paedophile. The successful conviction was followed by two months spent with family and friends picking raspberries, viewing dinosaur fossils, playing the drums, catching fireflies, eating barbecued shrimp and collecting shells on the beach. Never had a flashing proved so magical.

After we got back to wintry Auckland, I found out that the paedophile had died in his jail cell. Karmically, I’m not sure where that leaves me.

Obviously, I did something good in a past life, though, because this year we got given the best neighbors in the universe. A lovely young couple with a two-year-old that has become best buddies with our little boy. Besides, they always have a spare clove of garlic or cup of mayonnaise, not to mention an assortment of awesome tools like power saws and those tiny little screwdrivers you need to fix your sunglasses.

So I count my blessings and try not to focus on the fact that my legs are untoned and that I still haven’t published my absolutely astonishing memoir that is destined to become a worldwide bestseller, if only I had a printer to prepare the query letters for literary agents who don’t accept emails.

Thank goodness you at least accept emails or this annual catch-up letter would never have made it to you. Because I’d be lying if I said that one day again in the future I’ll send individualized Christmas cards – in four different languages – complete with printed-out photos to locations all over the globe. The last time I had the time for all that nonsense, I was single and unemployed.

Thanks for reading to the end, even if you did do a bit of skimming, and I’m sorry I missed all your birthdays this year. I’ll try to do better this time around.

Blessing to you all…and oh, a very merry (belated) Christmas.

Hoping you'll forgive me,



  1. aw hugs Heddi - it's been quite the year! I love your writing style and feel sure that you will be published.

  2. Thanks, Mary Anna, you're one of my biggest cheerleaders! Hopefully this year will be great for all of those around us :)

  3. Heddi, your greetings for Christmas are less belated than in advance as this year's christmas is still some (*counts on his fingers, then says 'bugger it'*), well, many many days away. I've absolutely loved your catch-up. You're more of a worker than I am; I haven't even answered the Christmas wishes of my Facebook-friends. I'm so not into Facebook, it's a shame for a young guy like me (maybe approaching 40, alright, but I still haven't decided whether or not I'll allow those bloody 40 to really knock on my door; perhaps I'll just remain 39 forever!!! just you wait and see!)

    Greetings from windy Paris (btw, it's raining here as well, and no snow this year, sniff)



    PS: got a second blog now, one about food and stuff!! Pretty exciting to start something new, at my age!! LOL

  4. Dear Dieter, yes it's all about perspective, isn't it? Belated Christmas wishes or very early too with the age thing. Nearly forty or nearly forty-one, if you count the time in the womb? Numbers can be scary, like mathematics: I try to stay clear of both of them, but it's a daily battle now that I too am forty! All I can say about this big scary birthday is that the anticipation is much worse than the actual fact of being forty. Once you've reached it, you can relax for the next nine years, until the next scary number!
    Looking forward to checking out your new blog

  5. This was fun to read -- and provided just enough information without getting too bogged down in the details. Plus I feel like I know more about your year, certainly more than I absorb in my too-infrequent stops here. Happy new year!

  6. Sorella! Somehow I missed this one. It's great. Very honest and amusing. I, personally, detest those group e-mails and newsletters that people send at Christmas, basically showing off about how great everything is and making you feel bad for not having had so much fun! It's a bit of a phenomenon these days I think - the showing off I mean. I read somewhere this morning that using Facebook can actually make people depressed as they view everyone else's excitement and worry that they are not having such an interesting life. But who actually posts honestly? I mean, what's my news this week? Bought a CD, really like it. Nothing much else of interest happening.

    Love you like a sister

  7. Thank you, Jennifer. I was really trying to be honest instead of cheery like these emails usually are. Honesty is something I really love about YOUR writing, by the way.

    Happy New Year to you too. May it bring you peace and success.

  8. Dear sorella, it's all about how we present ourselves, isn't it? And perspective. When I look back at the year, lots of details have faded: all I remember is the really great stuff, the hard stuff, and the epiphanies. Oh, and the family love.