From the author

A Christmas Letter to my Readers

December 22, 2012

There’s an Irish Proverb that expresses my sentiments as I open the cards, e-mails. and posts you've sent during this sacred holiday season. “When I count my blessings, I count you twice.” The messages, photos, letters, and notes tucked within each envelope remind us visibly of the ways you've enlightened my life and fill me with gratitude.

A dear friend brought me to tears of laughter the other day as she told me about the cards she’d bought to send out this year -- happy elves leaping and dancing from tree to rooftop and shouting gleeful greetings. And inside those cards, she’d be writing a “I’m sorry to tell you that . . .” message about the grief that recently overtook her life. “Whatever possessed me to buy such a card?” she sighed and we began to laugh. How good that laughter was. It reminded me that friends don’t expect our messages to be totally upbeat when our lives are mixed parcels of joy and sorrow.

This year, Bill and I decided to delay our winter sojourn in Florida until after Christmas. While snowfall has been elusive, we did have the chance to snow-shoe on an overcast winter day through forests laden with snow, accompanied only by the large tracks of a snowshoe hare. Snow captured the neat footprints of a fox that climbed the stairs to our deck, then wandered back along the trail to cross Francesca’s grave and head down to the lake. And every day, the chickadees, politely waiting their turn at the feeders along with the nuthatches and redpolls, rejoice our hearts.

For the past year, my husband Bill has been flying back and forth across North America for three weeks at a time assisting businesses achieve their goals. I’m very grateful for the three week break Christmas provides, giving us precious time together and to celebrate the holidays with my son Tom and his family. While we've not traveled to exotic places this year, our children and grandchildren have visited us here and in Florida and we've traveled to Iowa several times for Bill’s family celebrations. When Bill is home, we use every excuse to head to Duluth to dine out and take in a movie, especially if there’s a foreign film to enjoy.

A good deal of spring and summer disappeared while I recuperated from a bad fall down the stairs. Three fractures in the sacrum and hernia surgery reminded me how I’d taken my strength and health for granted. I’m back up and walking now and at work on the umpteenth revision of my third book. To spur the process, perhaps you could send hopeful thoughts in that direction.

Christmas on Lake Superior inspired me, for the first time since Francesca died eleven years ago, to decorate the house for Christmas. I had forgotten the intimate warmth of burning candles and a nativity crčche , the brightly colored Christmas lights shining through the windows. May the light of your lives shine on all you love and those who love you and may you find blessing in each day of the coming year.