As some of you know, I have been charged with the monumental task of going through my parents’ house and all their stuff. They have both moved on now (one to heaven and the other to assisted living), leaving all their worldly goods behind. As I sort, I’ve been setting aside things of sentimental value – family photos, for example, and also the Christmas letters my mom wrote every December since 1963. Lots of them are missing, unfortunately, but the ones I do have comprise a pretty good slice of my family’s history.
I’m also coming across some Christmas letters I wrote myself in more recent years – saved by my mom along with lots of other stuff.
“Was his letter a long one? Does he give you much account of what he is doing? Is it Christmas gaieties that he is staying for?” (Mansfield Park, chapter 29)
I’ve been following that tradition for quite awhile now, composing a newsy letter to send out to family and friends at the holidays. More recently, I’ve started making the letter into a card by printing a piece of my own artwork on the front. (See examples here, and read related post: Christmas Cards)
Anyway, when I found my letter from 2004 a couple months ago, I had to take a few minutes for a stroll down memory lane. I enjoyed re-reading what I’d written about my oldest son’s graduation that year, my younger son’s various activities, and what totally un-exotic places my husband had been sent for work. As usual, I had saved my entry for the last paragraph. This is, in part, what I had to say on that subject:
… And, with more time to myself now, I’ve been able to do more reading again. I have been enjoying the challenge of straining my brain and expanding my vocabulary by reading some of the “classics.” I just finished all of Jane Austen’s novels. So, in that vein, let me close by saying that I have not the smallest scruple in wishing you joy this Christmas, the barest minimum of vexations, and considerable felicity in the year five-and-two-thousand.
Ten years ago, I had only just recently discovered Jane Austen. I still had no idea that, inspired by her, I was about to embark on a second career as a novelist (It was only a month or so later that I sat down at my computer one day and started to write The Darcys of Pemberley). In fact, the bit above is my very first recorded attempt to translate my thoughts into “Jane Austen speak.”
So, I guess I’ve come a long way since then. Just goes to show you that life is full of surprises, and you never know what’s around the next corner. I feel I’ve been very blessed to have been given something new and interesting to do at this stage of my life, and to have experienced more success in it than I could have imagined.
Where were you and what were you doing 10 years ago? How has your life changed in unexpected ways since then? Are you flourishing in some new role you hadn’t foreseen?
Updates: For those of you who read the previous post What Should I Write Next?, I wanted to let you know that I’m actively pursuing both option #4 and #5 at this time! Also, I’m planning on doing a promotion for The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen in December with sale prices and prizes. Stay tuned for details!