2016: A Holiday Letter

Dear Megan,

I trust this letter finds you warmly enjoying the holiday season. I imagine now and sincerely hope that you, and possibly your significant other/partner/beloved family/cuddly pet(s), are nestled in oversized furniture around a roaring fire, sipping homemade apple cider while the air encircles you with an aroma of mulling spices and faint traces of pine.

(You will notice I did not mention here your darling little sugarplums. For God’s sake, I hope those wretched hellions are asleep. Let’s be honest. You could really use a break for a solid evening without having to pay $25 an hour for a babysitter, plus tip (hint). For you cads of the bunch, let me know if you’re interested in an expensive yet untraceable and questionably childsafe tranquilizer this holiday season. Unofficially, I know a guy.)

By now, I am quite sure you think this is a past due notice for your water bill, as their finance department also has a penchant for the verbose. (I should know. Mine’s always late.)

Alas, you are not delinquent on a payment. Far worse: It’s yet another holiday letter.

For this, I am so sorry.

You’re in it now, though.

Committed.

And so, do let us begin:

As many friends and family traditionally pen a holiday letter of this sort, I would oblige you to embark with me on a written review of the year, replete with highlights, name dropping, and the unbridled braggadocio typically reserved for those with twice my accomplishments and half my crippling insecurity.

An earnest note as we move forward: There are those among us who liken 2016 to a “dumpster fire,” and, “Literally the worst year ever. I mean it. I’m not using that term ironically this time, guys. 2016. So bad.”

I hesitate to mention this, because I loathe feeding any unfairly(?) earned reputation of bold arrogance, but — 2016 was very good to me. In fact, it might’ve been the best year of my life!

In January, while armed roughnecks were occupying a federal wildlife reserve (forgot about that, didn’t you?), I was celebrating 1,000 days clean and sober, and more than 100 pounds gained since the year I went to rehab. My substantial promotion (bestowed upon me because the last person rage quit in search of a better life, as, several paragraphs down, so shall I) also went into effect, and my salary in thousands finally yet barely exceeded my BMI. Dream come true. Go me!

Spring elusively sprang, and ushered in the delicate preciosity of cherry blossoms with its predictably renewed love of The District. From the bustling, Parisian-style avenues and unassuming stateliness of the row houses to the increasingly gentrified arts districts — I must confess, I love it all. Sure, the price of a 32-ounce Diet Coke from my favorite bagel shop went up, again, to a shocking $3.29. But having to choose between the Diet Coke and affording breakfast has honestly been a blessing in disguise. (Even though I have long since abandoned all hope that there is a God, I smugly practiced veganism for Lent. No cream cheese for me!) And seriously, who needs all those carbs?

The shop is tiny, crowded, poorly laid out, and has been there for 30 years. It’s two blocks from my apartment and the farmer’s market, and only one block from my favorite used book store. I guess that’s just the price I pay for being a proud Washingtonian, you know? Especially now that I’ll be sharing a water line with Mike Pence, it’s clear to me that it will always be worth it. Thanks so much, 2016.

The summer may have brought a targeted mass shooting of LGBT people, more police murdering of people of color with little to no consequences, and the horrific Dallas incident, but beauty can easily bloom from the seedlings of adversity.

After I marched on the Capitol a few times, stayed up all night in the Senate gallery in support of the gun control filibuster, and attended several protests, all while courageously “refusing to stay silent” via magnanimous Facebook posts, I slowly came to realize that almost all of my racist and/or Trump supporting kinfolk and colleagues have full-scale blocked and un-friended me (or vice versa)! And I am much the better for it.

(You know as well as I that it’s exhausting even entertaining the notion that one is in some way responsible for keeping up with “heart-liking” all those compulsory birthday thank you posts, bespoke engagement pictures, and looking the other way when visually assaulted with Pinterest-worthy fetal sex “reveals,” anyway, am I right? We have read our Judith Butler and are much too cosmopolitan for that. Again, thank you 2016, for separating the wheat from the All Lives Matter, Grab-’Em-By-The-Pussy chafe.)

The autumn came in no time, and we celebrated my bouncing baby nephew’s first birthday. He is the light of my life, and there’s nothing I’d rather do than help foster his intellectual and emotional development. Of his myriad birthday activities, one involved a leisurely hike in the Shenandoah with friends. Sure, I may have fallen down the mountain, possibly fractured my ankle, and wrenched a knee, but I wouldn’t trade our time together for anything! What a doll!

At work, a tacit endorsement of then-candidate Trump and hungry acceptance of a sizable donation from his foundation helped push me over the edge to expedite resignation. Luckily, because the “Greed is Good” Baby Boomers have destroyed their children and our economy, everyone my age must consistently have many occupational irons in the fire. For now, at least, it’s consulting and corporate writing.

2016 may have seen me temporarily(?) abandon the practice of saving for retirement, but at least I know I’m free.

And of course, then came the election. I celebrated the day at Hillary’s campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, working hard for one final battle towards voter protection and that statistically insured victory. After an action-filled day, we all headed to the Javits Center, a sea of heretofore naive pantsuits and flair — to bask in the fruits of our and so many others’ labors.

When the electoral votes skewed away from our favor and reality set in, I was so grateful I haven’t gone on a proper date in more than three years. Can you imagine having to process this traumatic defeat while maintaining a stable, suppprtive adult relationship? I really dodged a bullet there!

I wish you and yours great health in the year ahead, and look forward to active times with each of you! As for me, 2016 saw me lose 60 pounds in a slow and steady (read: lazy) push towards a healthy midlife. My BMI has dropped considerably, but is still listed as “Obese — Class 2,” and remains higher than my age. Class 2 sounds so exclusive! 2016 is the best.

As this banner year comes to a close, please pause from your slow(ish) march to senility for a moment, and congratulate yourself on being a beloved friend of mine. Whether we are near to one another or far removed, please know your presence in my life is truly its sustaining timbre. (Please also note: I’m completing this through a Mail Merge, so there’s a possibility I just forgot to take you off the list.)

There are many happy gatherings, trips, moments, and new memories made with many of you this year, and I cherish these ever so dearly. Sorry, they didn’t make the cut. Better luck next year!

In lieu of material gifts from now until the end of the Trump/Pence administration and/or the demise of our constitutional republic (whichever comes first), please know you’ll be receiving a notice that a donation was made in your name to: The Southern Poverty Law Center, The ACLU, The NAACP, Planned Parenthood, The Lilith Fund, The ADL, CAIR, Border Angels, or a local needs-based charity. Should you prefer another organization, please contact me for accommodation.

If we are not close enough for me to donate a pittance in your name, I implore you to take note of what an exceptionally compassionate and non-materialistic person I must be for this, though . You really go above and beyond with your friend selection, don’t you? Dream come true. Go you!

Below, please find a marginally attractive, unsexualized, and socially appropriate photograph of me, subtly enjoying the natural beauty of my geographic region and wearing a Star Wars/UNICEF tee bearing the words “I AM A FORCE FOR CHANGE.” That certainly looks like a person you’d invite to your next dinner party or arts and cultural event, doesn’t it? There’s always gotta be one single, you know? Just to mix it up a bit. Look at you, being inclusive. You are such a great person! Here’s to you in 2017!

Very Merry!

B. Rae

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