My Christmas Letter

I have always loved reading people’s Christmas letters. Every year for as long as I’ve remembered, I’ve asked my mom if she was going to write one this year, and every year, no. But I was always welcome to write it for her. But that’s lame; the kid never writes the letter.

But this year I moved out. But I’m, generally speaking, alone in the world, and who writes Christmas letters when they don’t have a family to write about?

So I write a blog. Probably one of the most depressing and brutally honest Christmas letters you will have read.

In Christmas letters, people give their year a theme. So I will too.

Since I can’t pick just one, my themes are dichotomy/discontentment and transition. Dichotomy because it’s been a hard year in some ways, but an easy year in others. All year long I’ve been in this incessant mode of transition and I don’t even know what I’m transitioning into. Transitional housing. Transitional roommate. Transitional company. Transitional churches. Transitional job titles. Dichotomy because while I like certain aspects of transition — things like the unknown, surprises, adventure, excitement, learning, and figuring things out — I hate other aspects of transition — things like not painting and drilling holes in walls and making home into a home, not being able to even look into buying a house because my company (in all its wonderful startup uncertainty) is the only thing keeping me in Indiana, and not knowing for sure what the heck I’m supposed to be doing about anything. Like every other year, my selectively giant ego has battled my selectively low self-esteem in dichotomy. Discontent because my family thinks I design buses for a living, or I work for some notoriously “progressive” and intangible dot com beyond the realm of human understanding. Discontent with the same conversations about the two things you’re never supposed to talk about at dinner: Church and Politics. (It would be one thing if the conversation were about God, rather than church…) Discontent with the stagnant personal, creative, and spiritual rut I was in, living at home, so I moved. Dichotomy because though I want them to know me, I hate that the first thing they ever say is “How’s work going?” or “I saw a ChaCha bus.” Discontent because recently I had the best communication of my life with a person who 99.9% cannot be “my person” in the words of Meredith Grey. I digress.

In Christmas letters, people write about their travels throughout the year. So I will too.

This year I traveled to Washington, DC and Philadelphia for Rachel’s (IU roommate) wedding. I missed the ceremony due to traffic, so it was a good thing that wasn’t the only thing I traveled there for. I stayed with Lori and Kyle (more IU roommates), who took me on the non-traditional DC tour that I wanted — things like the Library of Congress and the International Spy Museum. In Philly, with Katie (another roommate) we saw the Liberty Bell and walked through a lot of Colonial neighborhoods that had Dominos Pizza coupons stuck in the door handles.

I wanted to go to Gatlinburg for my birthday, but had no one to go with. So I took a singular vacation day and traveled to Ohio, if you can call that travel. Destination: the Hofbrauhaus — a German beer hall — in Cincinnati on Halloween with Sam (BFF from high school) and Adam. A bit different from the Hofbrauhaus in Munich… as in they show ESPN and the band isn’t brass… but they still sell great beer by the liter. Also stayed with cousins Abby and Jim the next day, and went camping and hiking in Brown County the next.

And then I came back having lost nearly all the overachiever character traits I had prior. I’m still looking for them.

I have 15 vacation days to use this coming year, and the travels I hope for include:

  • A snowshoeing trip in Michigan with Kate and Jaimie
  • Visiting Seattle/Portland/Vancouver
  • Potentially going to Denver

In Christmas letters, people reminisce on where they’ve come since the year prior. So I will too.

Last year at this time I thought I was losing my internship and all hope at my dream job. Now I just need to figure out what my dream job actually is. But I’m starting to think that it doesn’t matter when I’m with a dream company (minus geographic location and a few paradoxical policies) that lets my role shift with the wind.

In Christmas letters, people conclude with happy, forward-looking remarks. So I will too.

As much as I can complain, I have a lot to be thankful for. I have employers and co-workers who see more potential in me than even I can see. I have a few friends who would be “my person” if I would just let them, and be “their person” back. And I have a God who is just waiting for me to figure out and remove whatever is keeping us apart.


Hannah Downey

UX Design Consultant at Salesforce focused on content & sustainability. I love information design, the art+science of text, guac, sweet potatoes, & amazing people.

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