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Christmas letter for 2019

December 16, 2019
Bitter, depressed old man, wishing you Merry Christmas.

Dec. 16, 2019

Christmas letter from Dan and Penny Struckman

Do you like getting Christmas letters?  I don’t. Well, I might, depending on how well I know the sender.  They mostly seem impersonal.  I’m often jealous of their great good fortune. I get bitter. Depressed. Shit.

If I had any real world interactions with the sender during the previous year I always scan the letter to see if I made the cut and was mentioned.  Was our adventure with the sender letter-worthy?  No?  Then I read with a certain dysphoria.  (Not the word I want, but if I write a second draft I’ll change it and delete this sentence.) No.  Dysphoria will have to do.

Anyway, Penny and I are about the same as we were last Christmas, just older.  So is our dog, I should say trusty dog, Gunther.  He is three, almost four years old!  As I write this he is sitting on my neck.  Penny is sorting Christmas gifts at the dining room table.  Do we have a gift for this dog or that dog?  Penny thinks little treat bags would be appropriate for Clara’s dog Kirby and Gunther.  Olivia’s dog Velma has a great bag of cow hooves in store for her chewing pleasure.

I am still undecided whether to have Gunther wear his Christmas sweater from last year.  He looked cross when I last put it on him.  Come to think of it, he always looks cross because of his facial hair arrangement and his underbite.  Reminds me of Sergeant Moser when I was in USMC basic 50 years ago. Exactly 50 years ago!

Last August I followed Bob Struckman and Josiah Corson up the 32 turn zigzag trail to the Froze-to-Death Plateau in the Beartooth Mountains.  My black toenails are finally falling off these last few weeks.  Josiah said he will carry me to the top next summer. (Joke.)

Penny and I are both jobless but we have been volunteering.  She helps 5th graders at Broadwater School and, at Family Promise, helps families who are temporarily homeless. 

I help build stage sets at NOVA theater and ask businesses for donations.  I also help the families and individuals who are without a warm safe place to sleep.  I used to sing a lot with the church choir and the symphony chorale before my internist ordered me not to sing because he said my throat has some kind of trouble.  He also ordered me not to drink alcohol or caffeinated drinks.  I’m looking forward to Christmas, but without the usual fun experiences. Instead I plan to eat lefse and cookies.

P. and I see lots more of each other because neither has a job.  At first we had trouble getting along, but we’re learning.  

I hope you all have a good winter.  If Christmas is good for you, that would be so much the better. I enjoy snow and all that. Do I have a choice?

Do you have New Years Resolutions?  I do.  I hope to increase my physical and mental stamina.  I want to hike to Granite Peak next summer.  I hope to do a lot more writing.  Seems I have more to say.  Politics?  Don’t start with me!  Antiwar sentiment?  You betcha!  Singing?  If I can get out from under Dr. Malters’ prohibition.  Alcohol and caffeine?  Surely!  Just not yet.  I’ve always enjoyed my share of substance use.  Seems like more and more I don’t get to indulge. I re-read the same old books: Catch-22, Diaries of Adrian Mole, The Great North Trail, Slaughterhouse Five.

Depression?  Currently under control.  I keep my psychiatrist appointments.  Sleep apnea?  I have a harder time complying with Dr. Kohler’s orders to wear various contraptions to bed.  Penny laughed aloud night before last when she saw me with the light on. 

I’m inured to it, and I’m not kidding.  I was wearing the four-inch wide strap that goes under my chin and around the top of my head to keep my mouth closed.  Also the hose that goes up against my nose to blow air to keep my glottis (?) open with 8 inches of water air pressure.

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One Comment
  1. Kate Galambos permalink

    Dan! You are normal, darling. Being touchy with the spouse upon retirement is normal. Being blue at Christmas is normal. Not being sure about the dog sweater is also normal! Be kind to yourself. So many people love you. (And God loves you). It probably doesn’t help that everyone I know is sad because of our nation’s problems. Us oldies remember when the USA had values, hope, and a sense of community. We are all mourning that death (or maybe there will be a resurrection?) Anyway, on my end, my husband will come home from medical rehab on December 24, and I am on crutches with a broken kneecap. But I sang at our Christmas concert and that brought joy! Look for joy anywhere you can. I’m sure Gunther will smile several times tomorrow so there’s some joy right there. I have an idea – have a dysphoria party, pack it up in a Christmas box and chuck it into the fireplace (with a good strong fire going). Read stuff that is lighter and maybe even funny – PJ Wodehouse comes to mind. Onward! As we sang on Sunday: “Every morning, He sees about me!” Let it be.
    Sending love to you and P —
    Kate

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