Friday, December 30, 2011

Year's End

by Sheila Connolly

As usual, I still haven't sent out my holiday cards. Note that I don't specify which holiday I mean. Maybe I'll try for St. Brigid's Day (Imbolc or Imbolg), or St Brigid’s Day, Irish Lá Fhéile Bríde,) an Irish festival, most commonly celebrated on 1 or 2 February. Brigid is the female equivalent of St. Patrick in Ireland. Her day celebrates the beginning of spring, when the ewes are about to give birth. (You may recognize St. Brigid's cross, which is placed at the entrance of a home to ward off evil.)

I can get these done in the next month, can't I? I like to send (real, physical) cards, complete with an annual newsletter, even though I know the latter is the butt of many jokes. "Yes, Jake is looking forward to his release from prison, while Janie has found a cure for cancer, which she has been testing on our (late) gerbils." I've been on the receiving end of my share.

But I think it's still a good thing to try to boil down what you think was important from the year that's ending. Admittedly that that may not be the same as what you believe other people (dear or distant) will want to know about you and your loved ones. Sure, we all try to clean up our image for the general public, but a lot of the people I still send cards to go back years, even decades (at least one high school pal, and several from college), and they've been through thick and thin with me. They deserve an honest summary.

So, 2011 … Well, I didn't see the broken ankle coming, and I might have chosen to skip that, except that in a true writerly manner I milked the experience for all I could, and, yes, there will be a broken bone in the Irish book that's a-coming in a year or so. I was also obscurely pleased to find that the hospital where I spent a few days is also the site of the Cork County morgue, which is where autopsies are performed. Useful to know.

Fractures aside, Ireland of course was lovely, as always. It's always a pleasure to see it free of tourists (hey, I'm not a tourist!), and people are happy to talk to you. We were there during the last Irish Parliamentary elections, and it was fascinating to see how different they were from the U.S. version (of those, the less said, the better). I even collected pictures of campaign posters in Dublin.

I was thrilled when my publisher renewed not one but both of my ongoing series (which surprised even my agent). I now have a schedule that extends out for years, assuming the publishing industry survives in some form. But I think it will, despite the upheavals and growing pains going on at the moment. People still want the words, whatever form they take. Let us all hope that authors gain a little more control over their own works, and publishers recognize the fairness of that.

We older folks (my husband and I) are more and more subject to the creeping ailments of ageing—aches and pains, petty afflictions that can drive you nuts, like dry eye and fungus in the ear (what, you haven't had that yet? Just wait!). I now understand what all those cheesy commercials are about (well, except for the ones with the two bathtubs...).

Our lovely daughter, with an honors degree from an excellent college, still doesn't know what she wants to do with her life, although she's pretty sure it doesn't involve retail sales. She's currently planning to take some time off and indulge in a Wanderjahr, visiting friends and seeing the sights. She's been good about saving money, so she can afford it. I have to admit I have no words of wisdom for what a bright young person should do in today's economy—it seems like all the rules we grew up with no longer apply. So I can't exactly disapprove of her taking off and having some fun, while she's still young and unencumbered. Go forth and build some happy memories!

I could write this holiday letter to include nothing but complaints, but I'm definitely a glass half-full type of person, so I celebrate the good parts—and channel the bad parts into my writing!



Dru said...

Happy New Year! May 2012 be a successful year for all.

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

There you go, Sheila. You've written it--now all you have to do is copy and send. :)

Sandra Parshall said...

Your comment about the Irish elections being different from ours was a joke, right? :-)

On the whole, you've had a great year, Sheila, and I hope 2012 will be another good one for you.