Sunday, December 13, 2015


Late Fall, 1995
Bogie, Ling, Kerry and Bosco

I no longer send Christmas cards and because of that, each year I receive less and less.  I used to take pictures with my 35 mm camera and frame them in a holiday motif.  Thanks to my iPhone,  I seldom reach for a real camera. Photos are shared not printed and stored on a driver or uploaded to the mysterious "cloud."

The center of these cards were my children, until they reached a certain age and then my camera focused on odd or unusual sightings. It didn't matter if it had anything to do with the holidays, it was just something that stuck in my head.

One year I attended a party that included body painting. I had a large golden sun painted on my pre-cancer chest, while another guest had two giant blue eyes painted on her ass - one on each cheek. I used her photo, along with the caption, "Eye's wish you a Merry ChristmASS" as my Christmas card that year. It was tacky but my primary target was my Pennsylvania relatives, most of whom had an off-color sense of humor that I found endearing.

Another year the Naked Cowboy was my theme. Back then he was new to Time Square and was a semi-toned and tanned novelty.  I took so many pictures of him that he grew annoyed. I couldn't decide which one I liked better so I used both.

I have always enjoyed receiving newsletters that highlight a year in the life of a functional family.

Mine, although less traditional, is always colorful and therefore deserving of its own rant. Here is my very first, holiday newsletter.


Greetings Family and Friends,

It has been an astounding year jam-packed with tears, fears and laughter.

It began with Mark fracturing his ankle somewhere between the stroke of the new year and the dawn of the first day. It took another 24 hours to talk him into seeing a doctor at which point we discovered that he would need surgery and screws would be implanted. Nine months later those screws would be removed when his wound refused to heal.

In addition to his ankle fracture, our marriage fell apart and we filed for divorce on April Fools'. Our divorce was granted on August 17th - what would have been our 13th wedding anniversary. It was an amicable divorce and thanks to Marks generosity, I continue to live in my condo tucked beside a waterfall and enjoy the luxury of health insurance.

As I patiently wait for my darling daughter Ling to sprout her fairy wings, she announced that she has a boyfriend, who miraculously, we all adore. In addition to waitressing she has begun massage therapy school. At the tender age of 25, and with several colleges and career choices behind her, we are almost certain this one will stick. Despite her fluttering, we appreciate her goodness and joy of life, and wish we would have taken our time before choosing a career path.

Jackson, now 14, is a freshman at the high school and is aclemating very well. With his head planted in the clouds we are amazed at his ability to excel at school and sports, and still find his way home each day.

Somehow, during the course of a year, this happened... 



I'm not happy about it, but Jackson sure is. 

Mary continues to balances work and parenting and occasionally, when she makes time for herself, I get to step in as the adult in charge. The beauty of her love is evident in Jackson for he is a respectful, polite, compassionate young man who adores his mother and values his education, religion and family.

Thanks to the foresight and good fortune of my father, I have managed to corral the most important people in my life into one structure - a two family house - that is less than 5 miles from my home and across the street from my office. The addition of Pete, Ling's boyfriend, adds a much appreciated adult male energy as well as a daily infusion of music, thanks to a collection of instruments that he plays.

Work is fun. Play is fun. I am good at having fun.

So are these two...

Sasha and Lucy

I am grateful for the guidance and unconditional love of my family - both chosen and through birth, two and four legged, here and beyond. 

I am living alone for the first time in my life. There are times when I celebrate my independence and cherish my solitude. There are also times where I grow restless and fear I will die alone.

Despite all that has happened, or maybe because of it, I am surrounded by the love of those I respect and admire.  I continue to enjoy and appreciate good health.

My hope is that we all open our hearts, cultivate an atmosphere that is inclusive and tolerant of others, and that we infuse kindness and compassion into our thoughts and into everything we do. 

Wishing you all great joy, peace, comfort, and most of all.... LOVE. 

XO, MonkeyMe 

Three Sisters 
Norie, Shannon (confused by shoes) and Colleen


  1. I used to love sending out the Christmas Letter/s (50) but when no one responded in kind, or even with a word of hello I stopped sending them out. I'm down to getting less than five cards a year now, sadly, it is a tradition that continues to fade. Thanks for sharing yours!

    Wishing you and yours a very Merry Holiday Season and a prosperous and peace filled New Year!

    1. Thank you Yolanda! So far, only two this year - both of them family portraits (my favorite).

      I too wish you all the merriment of the season and a new year that is full of joy! xo

  2. Dear Shannon,

    The hand-written card is the best gift to give and to receive. It's as good as a new Hot Wheels racer. Truth. Alas, no one takes the time, right? So we sit at our keyboards and create flattering missives for people to read and forget. I hope to send several cards to key friends - people that I share a long history with...

    And to you, and your adventurous soul, I offer this... a new year full of whimsy, full of visions, full of difference, full of passion, and filled with friendly laughter, red wine, and dreams lived. Happy Holidays!

  3. hello Shannon you are beautiful and your life is beautiful

  4. "There are also times where I grow restless and fear I will die alone."

    I think it was Robin Williams that said something along the lines of I used to think the worst thing was to be alone, then I realized the worst thing was to be surrounded by people and FEEL alone.

    Clearly... you will never FEEL alone... and that's what matters.

    Merry Christmas Love.... I may just steal your Christmas Letter for myself... with a bit of a Juli twist of course. :)

  5. Merry Christmas Shannon:) this is one of the nicest updates you have written. I really liked hearing about your Daughter, your Fur Kids, and Jackson, who has grown up so much, and that Mary & everyone is doing well. Mark updates me every now & then, and always has positive things to say. I know he misses everyone, especially Jackson, since he tears up when I ask about him. You sound like you are doing well and enjoying Life. Have a great New Year and just enjoy! Take care.. Sue

  6. Hello! I've missed you on The Colon Club (PainInTheAss, here). My two year MRI and scan were all clear. I'm guessing that yours were, too. 80% of recurrences happen the first two years, so it's looking pretty good for us (we had surgery around the same time).

    Since it looks like I'm going to be around for a while, I started writing, too.

    I only have one post on my blog, but I'm hoping to post twice a month. I'm glad to see you are doing well.

    1. Soooooo good to hear from you! I didn't know that fact about the two years. Two years from diagnosis, or from surgery? Shit .. Has it been two years? I stopped going to the colon club after Marcos died. I felt so connected to him and his glass of red wine. It's such a horrible disease and I needed to stop focusing on it. Heading to your blog! Thanks so much for saying stopping by!


Thank you for encouraging my JOY of writing. By reading and commenting you are feeding my soul, stroking my heart, and in the end...making me a better writer.

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Shannon E. Kennedy


Photo by Joan Harrison