Holiday Mood

Here they come! Probably not as many in the mail as in previous years, because there are more emails, ecards and clever links showing up. I do it too, because there’s always some friends who beat me to it, and send cheery messages that beg a response, like: “All the kids are brilliant and we’re off to Cabo for the holidays. How ’bout you?”

Well, thanks for asking! Money is tighter than ever, we’re not going anywhere for vacation, and I’d rather not think about some of the things we went through last year. I guess my kids are fine, but they don’t live with me and I don’t want to stalk their Facebook pics to find out how they’re really spending their time. We give to charity and work hard for peace, but nothing new or exemplary to report. There were lots of good moments with friends, and overall I think we did more good than harm on the earth, but hardly anything meriting any end-of-year top 10 list. Anyway, bragging is never tasteful, especially in a season supposedly filled with humility and charity.

We have distant relatives from the Michigan U.P. who used to send long, 4-page single-spaced letters printed with festive floral borders, recounting their mishaps falling off jet skis, home construction projects and shopping encounters in the big city (Menominee). Others just itemized all the new tricks their grandkids and pets could do, and the fate of the sugar beet crop. Then there are those whose cards didn’t come this year, but I know need our attention because I read the obits, or know about the son who won’t be coming home from the war, or, or, or… For those whose holiday greetings didn’t arrive, I try to write a personal letter in January, and hope that it reaches somebody who needs a friend.

For everybody else, I try to write something relevant, a paragraph or so on the political situation, and how we hope the world will find peace, love, understanding and all that. I don’t get many responses about what I write. Maybe it’s not appropriate for the season? Here’s last years’ open:

We hope this letter finds you well this holiday season. It would be irresponsible if we just happily reported our little lives, when so much suffering exists throughout the world. We all try to make the world a better place, and continue to raise our voices and contributions to end disease, misery, inequality and war. Our lives may not be perfect, but we hold on to each other in bad times and try to help our friends and neighbors next door and across the world.

So, what should I write this year? Go upbeat, or slam everybody who isn’t in the streets with OWS?

Postscript: Just received our UP relatives’ “Holiday Headlines 2011” with this update about their daughter Meagan: “She and her boyfriend, Scott, are planning to move to Arizona after graduation. In her spare time, our darling, sweet daughter is preparing for her first mixed martial arts cage fight. Yes, you read it right.”

Suz Korbel

Susan Korbel

Graduating in '71 from Cornell gave me a few unencumbered years of protesting, followed by 4 happy hipster grad student/worker years at U of Michigan, completing a Ph.D. in public administration. Followed a comedian to San Francisco, then my heart to Austin Texas to learn the TV business, dabbled in hot&heavy politics in DC, and returned to Austin & San Antonio, Texas to hone my political/media skills. I make my money conducting consumer and political opinion studies.

  1. Lee Leslie

    Tough question. Perhaps an upbeat encouragement to get to the streets. Maybe a family photo at Occupy Austin showing your tent with holiday decorations. Lead by example. Here are a couple photos I saw on the web that might inspire:

  2. I wouldn’t slam people for not braving the streets quite yet.  After all, they’ve been fed a steady diet of fear for a decade, at least, and people getting laid off or coming home in coffins have made it quite real.
    But then, that may have been the turning point. Fear based on real disasters may be easier to counteract than the manufactured kind. Maybe the consensus that’s driving people into the street is simply, “Enough of that s**t already!”

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