From the Editor

From the EditorMy Christmas Letter Warmup

By Rosanne Dunkelberger  

If you hate finding those single-spaced, information-filled letters tucked into your Christmas cards, then I’m your worst nightmare. For at least 15 years, I’ve been writing a behemoth that can run on for four pages. And if that’s not bad enough, it seems that each year’s epistle starts with “(fill in the blank) was the best year ever for the Dunkelbergers” and ends up filled with good news of vacations, work success, and children who get good grades and stay out of trouble.

I wish I could share this charmed life with everyone – or even figure out how we’ve done so well for so long. I think it’s some combination of positive attitude, a certain amount of work, and a huge dollop of dumb luck.

Settling down in front of the computer to pull together my extravaganza is how I kick off the holiday season, and it’s a very good exercise – counting my blessings. It invariably leads to reminiscences about my childhood, and most of those memories are inextricably tied to the holidays.

My mother came from a family of 11 children who were a pretty fertile bunch themselves: When I stopped counting, I had 37 first cousins from that side of the family. Every year, the clan would gather at my grandparents’ home in Northern Virginia for Thanksgiving. The cooking assignments would rotate – one year, pies; the next, rolls or mashed potatoes – until it finally was your family’s turn to make a turkey. There were tables set up all over the house, youngsters underfoot and vast quantities of food. And it was wonderful, absolutely wonderful. Of course, this is the fond memory of one of those underfoot youngsters, not Mom, who undoubtedly was laboring to create a perfectly cooked monster bird.

And Christmas was even better. After church, the afternoon of Christmas Day was devoted to visiting. I don’t know if it was official, but the family seemed divided into the “visitors” and the “stay-at-homers.” My brothers and I would show off our new presents to our cousins while my parents unearthed the gin and bottled mix to make Tom Collinses – the only time of year they ever broke out the hard liquor.

We moved to Miami when I was 14, and those traditions were lost to me. But we managed to create a new one – waiting for my mother’s cousins to wheel their Winnebago into the driveway for an annual holiday visit. They always would have wonderful sausage from their farm, oranges they picked up on the drive, and one of my grandmother’s delicious lemon pound cakes.

We’re fairly family-less now, but I think my kids might have a few holiday memories of their own, starting with my obsessive decorating of the Christmas tree.

We’ve tried to capture the special magic of the holiday season in this issue of Tallahassee Magazine. Our fashion photo pages have a little something to help everyone in the family look fabulous. Of course, food is a holiday highlight. We’ve raided the recipe books of some of Tallahassee’s best cooks to help you create a dish that will make you the envy of the office at the next potluck. And our annual gift guide will provide inspiration to help you find the perfect present for a special someone.

I guess I’ll have to say it again: 2007 has been the best year yet. I hope the new year brings happiness and blessings to all.

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