by Barb, at home in Portland, where it’s beginning to look a lot like…
Over the past couple of days, I did spend some time writing that wasn’t work on the next Maine Clambake novella. I wrote our annual Christmas letter.
It’s an increasingly ridiculous exercise, I know, what with email and social media and other ways to keep in touch. But I’ve been writing them since 1995 and they’ve become a chronicle of the important events in our family year. I even took a survey of Wicked blog readers about their feelings about Christmas letters in this 2015 post, which also documented my history with them. At this point, my kids would think there was something terribly wrong if I didn’t write one.
Anyway, with only modest changes, like last names removed to protect the guilty, and photos inserted, here is this year’s effort.
December 1, 2022
Dear Friends and Family,
The merriest of seasons to you all. We hope this letter finds you happy, healthy, tucked up and cozy.
It’s the first day of Advent and we are off to the races! We’re decorating this weekend. Kate and her family will come to Portland next weekend for cookie baking. Granddaughter Viola arrives the weekend after that, just in time for the (renewed) annual Carito family Feast of the Seven Fish at Bill’s brother’s house. That is if weather and viruses cooperate. If there’s anything we’ve learned over the last three years, it’s that plans are only that.
In the meantime,
Bill has continued with his iPhone photography. He has a new website up at billcaritophotography.com, where you can buy a some of his pictures in a variety of sizes, with and without frames, even on mugs and tote bags! If you have a favorite photo of Bill’s and it’s not on the site, email him and he’ll fix you up. Bill’s also teaching a class at the Studios of Key West in March and one here in Portland in the summer.
I’m still writing. The tenth Maine Clambake Mystery, Muddled Through, was published in June. Two standalone ebooks, Hallowed Out and Logged On, previously released in the novella anthologies, came out in this fall. The Jane Darrowfield series has ended after two books. I’m a little sad about it, but I didn’t love writing two and a half books a year. So not that sad.
Bill and I spent January to March in Key West, and this year all the kids and grandkids were able to join us for a visit. Kate, Luke, Etta, and Sylvie, then three and two, endured a movie-worthy series of travel disasters to get there, but we were all together in the end. We were even joined by Luke’s parents, Kim and Bob, after Rob, Sunny, and Viola left. Etta and Sylvie loved being surrounded by all their grandparents.
In early May, Bill, our sister-in-law Mary Ann, and our daughter-in-law Sunny, all had big birthdays within a day of one another. Kate and her cousin Emily were able to pull off a wonderful celebration in Kate’s backyard. Rob, Sunny, and Viola flew up to surprise Bill, which he thought was the best present of all.
Then things got crazy. In June, Viola flew up on her own for the first time to spend a week with Kate’s family. They found out they’d been exposed to covid and had their first positive test while Viola was on the plane. So instead of spending a week with her aunt, Viola spent it with Bill, exploring the attractions of coastal Maine, while I rushed to meet a book deadline.
Bill and I had a fantastic trip to Ireland and Scotland in July. We spent two days in Dublin, our first time, and then took a small cruise ship over the top of Scotland, with stops in the islands along the way. We spent a week in Edinburgh. Bill found the most amazing Airbnb on Thistle Street in the New Town. It was an exceptional visit and would have been even better if I hadn’t come home with covid.
In August we spent our traditional week at the Jersey shore with my brother and his family, except Bill missed it because I’d given him covid. Then, over Labor Day, we had a family wedding for the first time in ages, which Rob, Sunny and Viola missed because they had covid.
You get the theme. A wonderful year that required flexibility and the ability to plan, and then re-plan, and then plan again. Our new, fully electric car also requires flexibility (at least as far as charging on long-distance trips is concerned), not a naturally strong suit for either of us. The world may teach these old dogs some new tricks. Or we may go on cursing and mumbling into the great good night. Either way…
On the Carito side of the family, John and Heather’s son Alex married Paula, in the Labor Day weekend wedding mentioned above. It was a beautiful ceremony and reception in a lovely old mansion in Connecticut. Carl and Eliana’s daughter, Christelle, her husband Pablo, and their son Julian were joined by baby brother Damien in September.
On the Ross side, Rip and Ann’s daughter, Julia, and her husband Ben welcomed their first child, daughter Meera, in February. Rip and I have six granddaughters between us!
And so, we’ve continued for one more trip around the sun, for which we are very grateful. We are also grateful for all of you. We miss you and hope to see you soon.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
Barb & Bill
Readers: I’m updating my survey from eight (!) years ago. Christmas letters–yay or nay? Fun to find out what friends are up to, or annoying since they only tell the good stuff, or irrelevant with social media and so on. Be honest!