Christmas Message

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I've been remiss in not posting for a while. Ah, Christmas is a wonderful time, but some of us get rather disorganized throughout the run-up and I am one of those people. Check your dictionary under the word, "procrastinate," and my cheery-yet-frantic face will be staring up at you. Well, maybe not, but it should be.

Among other deficits this year, I've not sent out any Christmas cards. Yet, I have many friends and a great many blessings to be thankful for this holiday season. The list will not be complete, but it's a start. I know some of those it mentions will read this, and so, this is my message to them. Or to you, as the case might be.

C & J - My children. They haven't just grown up over the past months, they've stepped up and taken over many tasks without complaint. They've weathered a storm that they did not deserve to endure and they've done it with poise, humor and grace. My love to them, now and always.

My Parents - Imagine, if you will, the stress of having both of your children fall seriously ill at the same time. Now imagine that one of them lives hundreds of miles away and you've got yourself quite a conflict. That was some really out-of-control sibling rivalry, if I do say so myself! Mother and Dad, thank you for your indomitable and unquestionable love, your faith, your generosity and your many, many prayers on my behalf. I couldn't have gotten this far without you. No way.

Janet - For being the ultra-capable surrogate Mom to my kids when I couldn't be there, and for taking care of me without question or complaint–even to the point of running to McDonalds when cheeseburgers were the only things I thought I could possibly eat–I am forever in your debt. For offering your shoulder to lean on, a readily available sympathetic ear and those swift kicks in the butt; and for your wisdom in knowing which was necessary at any given time, I thank you. I will never take a bath again without pondering the necessity of flotation devices. You are family to me.

Mindy - A new friend, but possibly a long lost sibling. Our minds are too eerily similar to suspect anything other than genetic manipulation by aliens. I thank you for your understanding, your phone calls, for the little *cough* something that I'm not going to mention here, but you know darned well what I'm talking about, and for having the wit and wisdom to be practical and forthright at all times. Thank you.

Cody - For Courage. Made me cry, you little scamp!

Boyd - Another new-ish friend, but a lifer to be sure. Thank you for being so incredibly concerned, yet respecting my need for privacy and my bit of admitted self-centeredness during the worst days after the diagnosis. I know how hard it must have been for you to stay away. My wish for you this Christmas is that you'll somehow find the time to write your novel. It's a good one. I ought to know.

Lou - For phone calls, chauffeur services, talismans and tough talking. My hat is off to you, ma'am, and I don't take the hat off for just anybody!

Caledonia Presbyterian Church - some day I'll get around to thanking the pastor and congregation properly. The circle of love that's been wrapped around myself and my children has been a blessing beyond compare. From this small congregation, mighty things have been done, many bills have been paid, many meals have been delivered and they sing a mighty fine selection of carols in sub-zero temperatures too. The Lord is my comfort and He works through such as these.

Members of the Wisconsin Regional Writers Association, Pauquette Wordcrafters, Writers at the Portage and my friends from Norbert Blei's classes (including Norb himself, of course!)
- for food, for letters, for phone calls, for monetary support, for prayers and encouragement. Writers tend to be somewhat insular in nature, yet the friendships I've made in this community are amazing and humbling.

Members from Greyhound Pets of America-Wisconsin (Especially Ginny, Ellen and the "anonymous" donors.) Although it might seem bizarre to the non-animal lover, one of my greatest fears in those first very bad days was the growing conviction that I wouldn't be able to financially or physically support Simon, my nine year old greyhound, throughout my treatment. Simon is my ever-present comfort, my "heart-dog," if you will. When I relayed my condition on the GPA-WI forum, the response was both unforeseen and incredible. Through the care and donations from GPA-WI members, Simon had food delivered, his nails trimmed and a collection was taken up for a much needed dental and a biopsy for a lump on his leg–including transportation to and from the vet's office. It was a large bill and it was completely covered. Words cannot express my gratitude. Simon sleeps beside me every night and watches over me through some pretty long days. He is an exceptional friend and I thank you all for the gift of being able to keep him with me.

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The Mutant Reviewers From Hell - My movie reviewing friends and comrades. After the floods of June 2008, they came together and sent a care package and financial support. (I still have the pirate rubber ducky on my desk.) After the August diagnosis, they rallied around me again and continue to do so. I am so grateful to be a part of the Mutant Reviewers. I am so grateful for their friendship. I am so grateful that they haven't decided that I'm totally jinxed and voted me off the island. I love you guys! I really do.

My Friends at Interstate BP-Amoco - For phone calls, car maintenance, money in the jar, goody bags and visits to the bald shut-in. Special thanks to my boss, Bruce, for the two photo books which undoubtedly deserve a blog post all their own.

JoEllyn - It takes a special hair stylist to pull out the clippers and do what's got to be done. More than that, it takes a special friend. Thank you for everything you've done for me.

The Others - Anyone I haven't mentioned, and there are a great many of you. Thank you for being there, for caring, for praying, for lending aid, offering help, standing by for such time as you might be needed. Thank you all.

On Christmas morning, the kids and I will open presents, eat well, laugh, love and rejoice as we do every Christmas day. But no matter what I might find under the tree, nothing will compare to the gifts I've already received this year.

Merry Christmas to you all!

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