Thursday, November 28, 2013


So, does it count that I got some of my cards with the annual Odell Holiday Form Letter out before Thanksgiving? Maybe not, but as make-ahead-mashed-potatoes warm in the oven and banana cream pies chill in the fridge for Thanksgiving dinner with friends later today, perhaps I can make good on my positive intentions here. 

Holiday 2013

Dear Ones,

Surprise!  I’m ahead of the curve this year. With Thanksgiving cards, which establish the theme of this year’s Odell Holiday Form Letter.  

I know I should always be thankful.  But this year has brought that truth into focus, as I realize most of my first-world problems have attainable solutions, and the rest aren’t worth fussing over. So, this year I give you a few things I’m grateful for as we close out 2013 and plunge into 2014. 

First and foremost, I’m thankful for doctors, nurses and insurance to pay for them.  This is because Tom’s annual bike trip took an unexpected turn to the burn unit at KU Med Center instead of beaches in Texas, or wherever the Over the Belt Gang went without him this year.  He took a spill on a trip home from the gym one steamy Saturday morning in August, arriving home with a great big hole in his ankle from the motorcycle exhaust pipe.  For a few days, he dismissed all discussion of seeing a doctor as the wound did not hurt, which he later learned was because when you burn to the bone you take out the nerves.  So I’m also thankful that once signs of infection appeared he was willing to relent.  A week in the burn unit, a wound vac, a skin graft and $160K in medical bills later (did I mention how thankful I am for Hallmark’s insurance? It bears repeating…) he still has his foot, and is on the mend.  Although awaits another skin graft. And still thinks he knows more than the medical professionals, obeying their orders selectively…. I’m thankful they have figured him out and are dealing with him accordingly. 

I’m thankful our kids live close by and are able to pay their bills.  I’m thankful that Rob got the opportunity to be a brewer for Boulevard Brewery, and that Jeni has stepped out on her own as the sole massage therapist in the eponymous Bodywork by Jeni.  That’s at 8012 State Line in Leawood, 816-830-6051, should you feel the need for aching shoulders to get a good work-over.  They both love what they do. They may not yet realize what a gift that is, but I sure do.

I’m thankful I can use the word “eponymous” in a Christmas letter.  For that, I have my parents – who insisted on good grammar and expansive vocabulary, despite my resistance – to thank.  It’s probably good they’re not here to witness the language devolve into text-speak, however.  U 2? Gr8. 

I’m thankful Tom likes to cook, because I don’t. And he doesn’t like it when I do, so it works out. Probably why we’ve stayed married for 40 years.  

I’m thankful the motorcycle is in its winter home in the back of the garage, right in front of where I pull in my trusty vehicle.  The temptation to step on the accelerator instead of the brake is fierce.... Tom should be thankful I’ve resisted that urge.  So far. 

It’s been a tough year for many dear friends.  I won’t recite the list – you know who you are.  My heart aches for all you’ve endured.  But I’m thankful beyond measure that you have, and are in my life.  Love you.  Or U. Whatever.

Most of all, I’m thankful for every person who reads this letter, and not just because you’ve got the stamina to get all the way through it.  It’s an honor to share space on the planet with you, to learn from and with you, to work or travel or sing in the choir with you, trade Facebook status updates, reconnect every so often and share memories, future plans and perspectives on the world.  Preferably with food and an adult beverage. 

All good things this holiday season and in the year ahead.