As I sat down to write this year’s missive, my mind kept focusing on a lovely Christmas card I received from a good friend and fellow volunteer at MUST Ministries. Not wanting to plagiarize the greeting card company, I’ll just say the card Ruth graciously sent me and my family was all about the blessings wrought by the people on our Christmas Lists. That got me thinking about my mailing list for this annual letter.
It has certainly changed over the 17 years I have been compiling this holiday greeting. The list is a morphing amalgamation of my life to date. Jobs and other professional circumstances, along with my pastimes, have informed it. Parenting shaped it. Marriage brought new names to the list while the deaths of friends and family altered it forever.
Some on my list engage with me often and others hear from me only once a year. Regardless of the regularity or irregularity of our communication, each name on the list is meaningful and important to me. I am grateful for the role – big or small – that each person has played in my life. Thank you one and all!
What does your list look like? You have one even if you don’t label it “Christmas List.” Just ferret through the Rolodex in your mind or check out your Contacts file on your computer or smartphone. We all have that list of names and the holidays are a great time to pause and contemplate the lives reflected on it and how each and every one has touched our own.
One thing that has certainly altered my Christmas list in recent years is traveling. It took my list global! John and I continue to do as much globe-trotting as I feel comfortable doing! No, I never ask my Traveling Man to settle down. When I reach my limit, I head home to rejuvenate while the Energizer Bunny who looks remarkably like my husband just keeps on going…and going…
This spring, we dropped in on Megan in Amsterdam before boarding a river cruise with friends. The castles along the Rhine really are spectacular, but it was watching a guy water ski down the river that stays with me!
Skiing on the Rhine.
We ended our cruise in Basel, Switzerland and spent a couple of days exploring that beautiful city along with a day trip to Lake Lucerne.
Upon departing Basel, we flew to our favorite city, Paris, for a month. Three of our children, Megan, Shannon and James, joined us, along with a couple of their friends. John and I then ventured to Tournai, Belgium, a lovely, little city near the French border we plan on spending much more time in moving forward. Got to improve my French!
We got home in May just in time to welcome our grandson, William, for a week’s visit. The biggest and best news in the Longino Clan is that William is going to be a big brother. Trevor and Eleanor are expecting twins!
William and me.
Summer heralded in a road trip for John and our youngest daughter, Tiana, when she moved to Las Vegas for a few months before returning to Georgia to gear up for graduate school. Then, John and James trekked to McAllen, Texas to volunteer with Catholic Charities. The guys provided aid to those crossing the border seeking asylum. Through it all, I stayed home to write…edit…and write some more.
This fall, we joined friends on an RV excursion down the Oregon Coast. John proved why he’s the Best Husband Ever by driving me all the way back to Waleska when I unexpectedly decided to cut my journey short around New Orleans to return home to finish work on my novel. John deposited me at the Gulch and headed right back out to visit son #3, Rollin, in Jacksonville before finishing our RV trip in St. Augustine, Fla. where we had arranged to meet our good friend, Robert of Backingdom – so named because he’s British and newly skilled at backing up a trailer camper.
Meanwhile, I finished! Sarah’s Way, a historical novel, was published in early November. There’s more than one person on my list who encouraged, supported and inspired me in the pursuit of my lifelong dream to write fiction. I am forever grateful to those wonderful souls. Without them, I’m not sure I would have persevered.
A large part of my corporate career involved writing – everything from ad copy to business plans. I quickly developed a thick skin, learning early on that every corporate executive is a critic when it comes to the written word – or just about anything creative. One of my first managers put it more graphically when he said, “Donna, people are like dogs. They have to piss all over stuff to make it their own.” True dat.
So, it’s been both affirming and humbling to have people tell me they enjoyed reading something that comes straight from my heart. The most poignant review came from my mother over lunch one day. I dedicated Sarah’s Way, my first published novel, to my mom, so of course, she’s not going to say anything too negative! But when she told me, “It’s REALLY good!” with a hint of surprise in her voice, I was touched beyond words. She wasn’t just being the good mother she’s always been – she actually enjoyed the story I told. For a writer of fiction, there’s no greater compliment.
A lot of people on my list have purchased my book on Amazon. I sincerely thank you for participating in my life’s dream. May the culmination of my aspiration provide a lesson in persistence and the power of the list!
May you and yours have the happiest of holidays.