My 2015 Christmas Letter

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2015 Christmas Card Picture

With the possible exception of one or two years, I’ve written a letter to enclose with my Christmas cards for the last 33 years. Well, this was one of those exception years.

I have a few good reasons, but then “good” is in the eye of the beholder: 🙂

  1. In August, I started working my first 8-5 job in twelve years. With the commute, it’s more like 7-6! Needless to say, it’s been an adjustment, losing 9 hours out of my day, and though it’s typical for me to run behind at this time of year, this year “running behind” went into overdrive.
  2. Earlier this year, I looked for the paper-clipped stack of previous years’ letters, thinking I’d make a book of letters and photos for my kids for Christmas. The main reason I kept writing these letters is that it’s a one-page history of the events of every year. But I CAN’T FIND THOSE LETTERS! That knocked a bit of the letter-writing wind out of me, until I realized, if I write the letter on my blog, it’ll be there forever.
  3. I found it difficult to think about recapping many moments of the year.

As a result, I decided to start a new tradition by bringing my Christmas letter up to speed with technology. I’m sure I’m not the only one who runs behind at this time of year, so it’s possible my paper Christmas letters were set aside by some, to be read at a later date. Since most people on my Christmas card list have access to my blog, now they can choose when, where (and whether!) to read it! 🙂

So, here’s my recap of 2015:

The year began with the hardest thing of all–losing my mom. In late January, right after my birthday, my mom, who for the last few years, had suffered with back pain and diabetes-related issues, took a turn for the worst. She was in and out of consciousness for a few weeks, and on February 13, she passed away at home, surrounded by family.

Mom and JanPeople who’ve lost a parent often told me, there’s nothing like it. And they were right. There are no words to explain it. On one hand, it’s a natural part of life. On the other hand, it’s a paradigm shift, as if one of the walls of the vessel that held me is gone.

It’s hard to write about anything else, because so much of what marks 2015 for me is the loss of my mom. But, sadly, I lost other people this year, too.

On March 28, my Uncle Fizzer (one of my mom’s older brothers) passed away at the age of 91 after a brief illness.

Both my mother’s and my uncle’s deaths gave me a new appreciation for my family. There’s no denying we’ve had our differences throughout the years, but during these sad times, we were bound together and supported each other as best each of us could. I’ve always appreciated my siblings’ confidence to be humorous in emotional situations–that’s a gift I don’t have, and what a gift it is.

Marler Kids 1970

Marler Kids 1970

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Marler Kids 2015

On April 2, I learned that one of my best friends took his own life on March 29. This was my first experience with suicide, and learning that he took his own life three days after I last spoke to him intensified the loss I felt. I still ask myself what I could have done or said that might have made a difference. It doesn’t help much at all to hear people tell me that’s a normal feeling for those left behind.

From April to August, I think I was a bit numb. Didn’t get much writing done. Didn’t get much painting done. It may very well be the reason I started to go a little stir-crazy, or maybe I was going through one of those phases where I call myself “Jell-O without a mold,” when so much of what defined me had changed.

Kim and PaulBut June brought us joy, when Kim and Paul (finally) got married. 🙂 It was a beautiful ceremony, filled with love and joy. And we knew my mom was watching, when as the bridal party walked into the church, a rainbow shone above us.

In August, we adopted Obi, perhaps because I needed something to take care of. He’s brought joy, laughter, even a little frustration to our home, and I love seeing Steve experience having a dog again after many years of being a daddy to cats.

It was during this floundering time I also decided to start looking for a job–for the first time in twelve years. On August 28, I began what I hope will be my last “official” job–working as an Office Administrator for a commercial real estate company. I’m grateful to be working for a company that looks for ways to move forward and engages and appreciates its employees, and I enjoy working with great people.

October brought us happy news! We learned that Adam and Emily are having their second baby, though admittedly, Grandma didn’t catch on to the big surprise for 90-minutes of Tommy running around in a t-shirt that said he was going to be a big brother. Finally, Adam had to say, “Did you notice Tommy’s t-shirt?” Duh.

Several weeks later, we were thrilled to learn Tommy will have a little sister!


In November, another blessing, as we learned James asked Andrea to marry him. We’re thrilled to be adding another member to our family! Wedding bells are planned for September 2016.

FullSizeRender_1In the past, many of my letters were filled with stories and pictures of places I’d been. This year, too, Steve and I made good memories in New Mexico, Colorado, (of course, Arkansas!) and Nova Scotia. But the word I’d use to summarize 2015 would not be travel, but life.

As I addressed my cards this year, I was saddened by how many names I had to remove from my list–my mom, Uncle Fizzer, Kirk, Uncle Bob and Auntie Barbara. It’s been a terrible year for losing people I love. But, as the year comes to an end, I’m also grateful for the members we’ve added or will add to our family–Paul, James and Baby Girl Hansen.

Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross said:

It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth – and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up, we will then begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.

If this year taught me nothing else, it’s that.

Merry Christmas to all, and may 2016 be a year of peace and happiness!

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2 Responses to My 2015 Christmas Letter

  1. Jan, a lovely and loving look back at your year of loss, blessings, and just plain life. I pray that you and Steve (and Obi) have a wonderful Christmas and a 2016 filled with blessings,



  2. Mustang.Koji says:

    What an endearing story of your year’s events and emotions… Certainly a roller coaster rivaling that of a Six Flags’ monster ride. You so eloquently wrote with compassion of how your letter list had become fewer yet such happiness with Obi and other additions to your family. Merry Christmas, Jan!


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