Sunday, January 20, 2013

Understanding My Place: A Letter and Neil Gaiman

Stranger in a Strange Land – No. 26

The other day my husband brought home a glossy, four-color, eight-paged publication he’d found on the sidewalk in our neighborhood. He intended to toss it into a recycling bin, but when he realized what it was, he knew he had to share it with me first.

I pawed through it—picture after captioned picture of one senior couple’s 2012 activities: celebrating milestones with grandchildren and former exchange students; vacationing with friends and family in Italy, Monaco, and China; learning to surf in Hawaii; hosting Union Rags and the Wyeths at the Kentucky Derby; acting as professional photographers for a wedding, building custom furniture, and so on. And so on…

Was it a self-published booklet to commemorate these events?

NO! It was their Christmas Letter to friends and extended family!

It’s exactly why people have come to hate such correspondence. It was so over-the-top it could have been a parody of the genre. But it wasn’t. It was a chirpy report of all the stellar 2012 moments one family experienced. And they sent it to someone in MY neighborhood, which can only mean (or I HOPE it means) that the recipients lead similar lives and didn’t take said Christmas Letter as the disturbing show of pretentiousness I did. Once again, I felt quite removed from my neighbors.

I had just been reading about Cabal, a dog rescued from a roadside by author Neil Gaiman. I learned that Cabal suffered from the same condition my pooch did (degenerative myelopathy), that British-born Gaiman now lives in the Midwest, that his relationship with Cabal was of the unexpected and nonpareil variety… Heck! I have more in common with Neil Gaiman than I do with these Christmas Letter–sending neighbors.

Hmmm. Maybe I can work Gaiman into my own Christmas Letter this year. Maybe I, too, can incite envy and head-shaking during the holidays.

This is part of an ongoing series regarding my transition from the Land of Lincoln to the Bluegrass State. For a list of previous articles in the series, just select Stranger in a Strange Land from the right of Lull, under “Choose a topic that interests you.”

[Photo of Cabal and Neil Gaiman by Kimberly Butler and titled Unconditional Love.]

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