“The Christmas Letter,” Dec. 12, 2017

There was a time in my life when I sent Christmas cards. Real ones, signed and addressed by my own hand and stamped with a genuine U.S. postal stamp. Looking back on it, it seems like a long time ago.

Every year, in November, I’d choose a card with a scene that, for me, conveyed clearly the meaning of Christmas. Then I’d order it in bulk, depending on how many I wanted to send.

I wanted to send lots. More every year. While I waited for the cards to arrive, I’d compose a letter to enclose. It would be very clever, or so I thought, bringing anyone who might be interested (or not) up to date on my life and those of my children, our latest challenges and accomplishments and such.

If I focused a bit more on achievements than on set backs, what can I say? I’m a mother.

It was always a pretty good letter, or so I thought. Not much different from the Christmas letters I received in return from friends who wrote in glowing terms about their lives and travels and accomplishments, as well as those of their offspring.

I’d address each envelope, picturing in my mind the streets and homes and lives of each recipient, then place a stamp, just so, and drop it in the mail.

I loved it. I especially loved getting cards in return.

As my kids grew older and finished college, married and pursued their various careers, our lives became a bit more complicated to report. So my Christmas letter grew longer with each passing year. But it wasn’t the length of the letter than gave me pause. It was the number of recipients. I cared, I assure you, about each of them. But at some point? I just knew too many people.

One of the gifts that comes with a long life is a treasure chest filled with a great many good friends … including some you may never have met. It’s one of my most cherished blessings. Life may not have brought me a wealth of riches. But it has brought me, hallelujah, a wealth of friends.

Unfortunately, I won’t live long enough to address (let alone, to afford the postage for) that many cards. I’d love to do it. But it’s not going to happen.

There aren’t many perks to being a newspaper columnist. We get to say what we think or feel about some aspect of life. And in turn, you, the reader, get to say, if you like, what you think about what we said. Given all the topics I could write about this week — politics, sports, or sexual harassment — I’m going to write, just for you, my Christmas letter:

Dear Friend,

It has been quite a year in my life, as I’m sure it has been in yours. My family and I, thanks be to God, are happy and well. I pray you and yours are, too.

In the past year, we got older, suffered a few setbacks and enjoyed our share of gains. We spent some great times together and with others we love. What else is living for?

It has been over a year since I lost my younger brother. I miss him especially this Christmas. No one lives for long without losing a loved one, but the one who is lost is irreplaceable. If you are missing someone you love, my heart goes out to you.

Perhaps you wonder, as I often do at Christmas, if this might be our last year on Earth? If it is, did we live it well? Who knows? Better to ask: How will we choose to live the year ahead, if we are blessed to live it?

I can’t answer that for you. I can barely answer it for me. But I’d love to hear your answer.

For now, I just want to say this: You and your friendship mean so much to me. Here’s wishing you and yours a blessed Christmas.

P.S. If for any reason you can’t send a Christmas card this year, feel free to e-send mine.



  1. Dear Sharon,
    I have attended many of your readings, followed your Sunday column in the Monterey Herald, being born and raised here in Monterey, attended MUHS in 1955 I did not meet your husband, but now that I am involved with the I-Help program for homeless men I have met many men who remember the “coach”. When it is my husband and my turn to provide a meal for these (ever changing) 25 men I have taken up the habit of reading them, those who choose to join in, articles, stories and your writings of the past just to bring a little thought provoking few thoughts to them that they might dwell upon during the next few days. I did so last night for 5 men, read your Dec 27, 2016 column “Clean Slate” which brought tears to the eyes of two of these hardened men. Your articles have brought tears to my eyes more than once also. Thank you for sharing your writing talent with the world, you make it a better place.

  2. The other day, I was going through an old tin of hand written recipes from my mom and oldest sister. Sis passed away in 2010 and mom passed away, in the same bed as sis, 7 months later. Looking at their notes on homemade baking powder and best biscuits brought back so many good memories…then, in the middle of the pile of recipe card, there was a stack of your columns I’d cut out of The Monterey Herald almost 20 years ago! The first one I read was titled, “Making Sense of the Senseless”. Had to read it through tears of gratitude…that the Lord was bringing me comfort through your words…again, in the middle of my loving memories of mom and sis. May you have a blessed Christmas, Sharon and thanks again…

  3. This is indeed a Thankful time. I found you again from an old column I saved from the Abilene Reporter. All your writings are worth saving. Now it looks like I can do that. What a Christmas gift that is!!!!! Updated.
    Kay in West Texas

  4. Sharon.
    I met you when you were in Wichita Falls, TX several years ago. My Christmas letter mirrors yours. Started out as enclosure in a bought card, now is singly printed on Christmas paper and matching envelope. Mine is all about family, and in rhyme. I have saved them through the years (maybe about 30). Can hardly wait each week for your column. THANK YOU!

  5. Penny Davis says

    Thank you for your great and inspirational column. Merry Christmas!

  6. Kate Sciacca says

    Interesting, for the past several years I’ve spent the moments decorating the tree asking myself “what will next Christmas bring?” Don’t know why it’s this particular holiday that conjures those thoughts… I pondered that last year – and this year brought the loss of a very dear friend after a three year fight with cancer. Cancer won. A future DIL lost her beloved Grandpa this morning… the stress of the Napa fires were too much for his frail health (he was helicoptered out of his home on Atlas Peak…)

    Hoping next year brings more joys than sorrows…#5 is getting married in June… another grandbaby would be just fine ??.

  7. What a wonderful thing to do. Thank you for sharing that.

  8. Mickey Harmon says

    Hi I remember in 1947 ( I think or maybe 1948 not sure since I’ve lived for 81 holidays ? ) a Christmas in apt. 103-D in Victory Village Nevada across the highway from Henderson. A group of Cinderblock apartments built for the families in the service and later made into low income housing. It was a special Christmas with three of us sisters and our Mom. I can’t remember where the tiny tree came from nor the angel hair that it was decorated with but it looked beautiful and the oldest sister decided we needed Christmas lights but because we weren’t going to get any Jan decided to paint the bulb that hung in the middle of the ceiling with red fingernail polish. We were so excited as she pulled the string and as soon as the bulb heated up it turned black but that was okay because Christmas never was about “things” and always about “ love “ and still is especially after the death of two wonderful husbands and a precious son

  9. judy whiteheart says

    we ( 4 siblings ) lost both of our parents in 2015….they were both in their 80s and we were grateful they passed peacefully tho I miss them
    every day ! We decided to not sell their house till after Christmas that year , instead we did a little decorating and had Christmas dinner around the dining room table we grew up with. Fortunately for us, we all live in NC so we get together on occasion to share a meal – but Christmas finds us at the sister’s house where the same dining room table is now, sharing food, memories and love !

  10. carol toothman says

    I am missing someone very much right now. I lost my best friend of over 30 years in October. She was not even 60 years old. She was so sick for a very long time and fought so hard but she just got too tired. Every Chtistmas morning one of us called the other. I will be waiting for that phone call this Christmas even though I know it will not come. I hope you have a great Christmas.

  11. Merry Christmas to all ?

  12. Dick Daniel says

    While reading the first part of this, I was going to suggest you write your Christmas letter in your column, then by the end you had done it. Of course, you actually share your Christmas letter with us 52 times a year! Thank you for that.
    Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  13. Elaine Mccaffery says

    Just want to say Merry Christmas, and best wishes to you and your family for a great holiday and a great New Year! God bless you for your columns. I’m sure you’ve been told a million times over how much your writings have become a part of our lives. You are like family, friend and mentor. You are a bright shinning star in a sometimes dark dreary bleak day. May God always bless you and keep you safe, healthy and happy.

  14. fred hernandez says

    As you know, I’m big on Christmas. So let me tell you one of my favorite Christmas moments. When we lived in El Portal (population 700, including the dogs), my son Greg took the Christmas spirit one step further. On Christmas Eve, he would take his bike to the top of the hill, and at midnight he would glide down the road and jangle a belt of sleighbells. Just on the off chance that some little kid would hear him and think he heard Santa delivering presents. Merry Christmas, Chicken Leg.

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