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This website is now published on my mobileme account. Any opinions expressed, however, are totally my responsibility.

The original website was published through the courtesy of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Jim Andris, Sept. 17, 2003.

Introduction to Christmas Letters

I suppose that to put all of one's Christmas letters online (all that one could find) is arguably a vain act. But I submit that there is more to this than just vanity. Many of us have gotten into the habit of recording the most important events of our lives in our Christmas letters. In effect, Christmas letters often contain significant portions of a person or family's history.

I have found it to be a really valuable project to go back and read all my Christmas letters. I find there are some things I wish I had never said or even thought, and other things that I was truly glad that I said, and wish to say again. I see how much I have changed over 30 years time, and yet how much I have stayed the same.

But many of you who will read this notice will find yourselves creeping into my life again and again in these letters. And so, these letters are here for you to read just as much of as you wish, or not at all. My life has always been pretty much of an open book, although I waited a long time to write some of the chapters of it.

"I’d always heard your entire life flashes in front of your eyes the second before you die. First of all, that one second isn’t a second at all. It stretches on forever, like an ocean of time. For me, it was lying on my back at boy scout camp watching falling stars. And yellow leaves from the maple trees that lined our street. Or my grandmother’s hands and the way her skin seemed like paper. And the first time I saw my cousin Tony’s brand new Firebird. And Janey—and Janey. And Carolyn. I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me. But it’s hard to stay mad when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst. And then I remember to relax and stop trying to hold on to it. And then it flows through me like rain, and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life. You have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure. But don’t worry. You will someday."

Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) in American Beauty