So I Did This Instead

For the first time in ten years, I did not write a Christmas poem.

(Cue the sobs or cheers depending upon how you feel about Christmas poems.)

Before you get too excited or depressed however, please remember you’re reading this which constitutes something perhaps worse. Or better.

That’s right: The Holiday Letter.

Why a letter? Well, I loved last year’s poem so much I didn’t think I could match it. Also, 2013 was just plain weird and there aren’t a lot of rhymes for Landlady from Hell. Or Insurance Adjuster. Or Fire Truck. (Trust me on this one, okay?)

‘Twas three weeks after Christmas when in our garage,

Some flames started cooking and – Dang. Nothing rhymes with garage, either.

(Now, if you’re thinking ‘barrage’ does. Ha! Julie really dropped the ball on this one, well. You’re my kind of people.)


I didn’t want to belabor the challenges of the past eleven months but I couldn’t completely ignore them, either. The whole fire ordeal was too big and too long and too much. So. I decided instead to make two lists: One for things that changed for us, one for things that didn’t change. At least not much.

What Did Change:

  1. Our garage door. And our roof. And the driveway, my car, and everything inside our garage and basically the entire garage because it was gone.
  2. Our exterior paint and stucco (much to the chagrin of our Home Owner’s Association) and also the interior paint and drywall and our flooring (which the HOA doesn’t care about).
  3. Our electronics and beds and pillows and cushions and anything that needed to be plugged in or turned on (don’t giggle) and our curtains and shades and stuffed animals and lots of books.
  4. Our address. (For five months while they rebuilt our home and we rented the house of the Landlady from Hell. Go ahead. Try to rhyme it. She won’t let you.)
  5. Our perspective.

This last one’s tricky. We were already a pretty grateful family but WOW did the fire give us a quick booster shot of HERE’S WHAT’S REALLY IMPORTANT IN LIFE AND GUESS WHAT IT’S NOT STUFF.

(But you knew that already, didn’t you, Smartypants?)

What Didn’t Change:

  1. My crow’s feet and gray hair, dang it. They’re still here. I blame the writing. (I’m not sure why, but let’s go with it.)
  2. Bill’s work ethic. (Someone has to make money while I make gray hair and crow’s feet.)
  3. Karly’s height. (Sorry, Baby. I think you’re stuck at five feet tall but at least you’re the sweetest person who ever lived.)
  4. Jack’s sense of humor. (Sorry, Baby. I don’t know what one snowman said to the other snowman* but at least you’re the most hilarious person who ever lived.)
  5. Our unending love for our friends and our family

and for these two

bailey and bella close up

 and these two

Karly and JAck christmas card

who now look like these two

Jack and Karly Xmas 2013

and for you and for each other, multiplied by forever = all the math I care to do today.           Or forever.

So in the end, the things that matter didn’t change. We’re still here. We’re still good.             We’re still imperfect people trying to be better. And in 2014, we will keep trying. And trying.

May this New Year bring you all the Changes you wish for and the Not-changes you need. (And the wisdom to know the difference. Or something like that.)

With much love (multiplied by forever),


clay snowmen

*“Smells like carrots.” Duh.

Last Modified on January 26, 2018
This entry was posted in Life
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29 thoughts on “So I Did This Instead

  1. Deb

    My first thought was “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” when I read there would be no holiday poem. But I certainly understand — I’m amazed you got so much of what happened this year into words at all. I wouldn’t dare ask you to rhyme!

    And you know I’ve ALWAYS loved your math. Have a wonderful holiday season and hugs to your whole family … xoxoxox Deb

    • julie

      Oh, Deb – If only we could have melded our two minds. Your math, my poetry = WORLD DOMINATION.

  2. Diane

    No holiday poem…I’m certainly one of the “ones” who was sobbing and yet you filled the void with your post. Although I have come to anxiously await the arrival of the card and poem, 2013 has been a strange year (on so many levels, in so many ways) so if you were ever going to take a hiatus, this is the year to do so. But…I expect the poem to return in 2014! Happy Holidays my dear, dear friend!

    • julie

      Yes, a crazy year but we’re both still here.
      Love you, Di.
      (Which is also hard to rhyme!)

  3. May 2014 be filled with “none” fire or landladies ftom hell (like my kids say), and lots and lots of writing and wisdom lines and glistening sparkles of hair and love and laughter and perfect photo recreations.

    • julie

      May 2014 bring YOU swift feet (or at least feet that feel like running – speed is overrated) and a heart that is full of joy.
      Thanks, Greta. You are a light in my day!

  4. You know who could probably rhyme Landlady from Hell with something good? Eminem. (And that is how MY brain fires away in random directions on Monday morning.)

    I hope 2014 is filled with only good things for you! (And tell Karly that 5’0″ is FINE. And that one day she can just wear heels so often that she can claim 5’1″ and no one will know the difference. Ahem.)

  5. This year was hard for many. So glad you all thrived! (I guess, to the chagrin of the landlady from hell!) Merry Xmas to you all!

  6. Allison

    I love the holiday list (letter).

    Tell Karly that 5 feet has its advantages— it took me a while to learn that. . . .but I did, and she will too.

    Happy holidays, Julie, Bill, Jack, and Karly. Much love (the woman formally known as Ms. Ginter:)) Allison

  7. What didn’t change in 2013 (and likely never will) my undying love and admiration (paired with a tiny twinge of jealousy at your superior wit and writing skills) for YOU, my smart funny friend!

    Merry Christmas

  8. “smells like carrots!” BWHAHAHAHA!!!

    I know something else that didn’t change…your awesome attitude and lovely words. So there. Happy holidays, friend.

  9. My 17-year-old gained an inch this year! She’s capped it all off at 5’2″….but she’s so proud of no longer being 5’1″ she texted, tweeted and snap chatted everyone she knew.

    I’m so glad y’all are recovering from the fire.

    If you would like a Christmas card from us, send me your address.

  10. Happiest of Holidays my dear friend. xoxoxo

  11. Yes, multiplied forever and ever.
    Oh my close but distant friend, what a year …
    Wishing you all the very best that 2014 could possibly bring you, but you already have riches a plenty – and are smart, savvy and sensitive enough to know it.
    Love always.
    Your Boca Babe friend down South -Nicole xxx

  12. Smells like carrots – cute! Aren’t kid jokes the best? 😉
    May 2014 be eventful in much different ways for you and your family!
    Merry Christmas…

  13. Awwww…love this. The photos of the kids?! Didn’t that make you want to sob?? I love the what to change and what not to change – I’m going to take that with me into the new year.

    I am so thankful for you, Julie.

  14. That was the perfect letter! What a great way to sort it out–what changed and what didn’t. Loved that you put “perspective.”

    And oh that picture of them as babies and now. WOW!

  15. Love you friend. Glad you are safe and sound and back in your home. And glad I’m back in mine. If we ever get to meet let’s not smoke or roast wieners. Dealio?

  16. I love the last picture so very much.

    What a year. What. A. Year.

    May 2014 be full of more love, more writing, more good things for you and yours. xo

  17. Thanks Julie for the reminder about perspective in our lives. Love the pictures of Jack and Karly then and now. And the dogs. So glad you got through the fire ordeal safe and sound. Wishing you the best in 2014!

  18. you’re fecking amazing, you know that?

    you have all been through so much. and yet.

    and yet. you remind us all where our hearts should be and what is truly important not just this time of the year, but 365 days a year.


  19. julie

    You all are just wonderful.
    Yes, all of you.

    Thanks so so so much.

  20. I’ve loved getting to know you this year, Julie and I’m so glad you are here during this holiday season with a gracious attitude to a tragic event. It IS all just “stuff” and many days I wonder why we bust our asses just to get more “stuff” when in the end, it doesn’t matter.

    Love the pic of the kids copying their baby pic in front of the tree! So cute!

    Love you and look forward to many more blog posts from you!

  21. To one of my fave. writers.

    Merry Christmas!



  22. I know what rhymes with truck! Wait… that was so not the point.

    What a year you had, and your perspective on it all is beautiful. I’m glad you’re back in your house, away from that charming landlady. May you have the merriest of Christmases at HOME. Now, go shop, because I saw your post on FB, and I know you have one or two things still to buy!

  23. Merry, merry, Julie. In the face of all of it, you are a light. Who needs a poem when we have you to share your glow with us?

  24. Feeling weepy. I loved this more than I can say – witty, fun, deep . . . and so glad all the important things in the world are here to see 2014.

  25. Kir

    When I grow up I want to be just like Julie. Always.
    Because your heart is open, kind, and wonder-filled.
    Because you can funny and poignant all at once.
    Because you remind me of how very lucky we all are to be here, to have each other, to feel the love from every corner of the universe and know that LOVE exists.

    thank you for always being the girl I want to be when I grow up.
    Love you, MERRY CHRISTMAS, here’s to a happy, wonderful, grateful 2014.

  26. I love how, in spite of everything, you’re still *you*

    And you guys are still *you guys*

    And flying fuck rhymes enough with fire truck for jazz.

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