The Val & Kit Mystery Series

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Christmas Letter

“I want you to proofread something,” Kit said, as soon as she opened her front door. She looked excited.

“Me? Oh. Okay,” I replied, once I was inside her foyer and bending over to remove my fake UGGs that appeared to have sprung a leak. “I can do that . . . wait . . . what?”

But Kit had already grabbed my arm and was yanking me toward her husband’s den. “You’re going to love it,” she squealed, as we hurried down the hallway.

“Huh! Did you say proofread? What do you mean proofread?  What is it?”

“It’s exciting, Valley Girl.”

I purposely slowed down. When Kit assures me I will love something, there are many possibilities, but almost always, “loving” is not one of them. 

“Here it is.” She plunked me down at the desk in front of the computer and hit the space bar. A document appeared, the title beckoning me from the top of the screen.

Kit and Larry James’s Christmas Letter

I read the words slowly and turned to face her. “Is this a joke?”

She looked offended, pulled a chair forward, and sat close to me. “Of course it’s not a joke. It’s a real Christmas letter.”

“I see that. I can read. But . . . why?”

“Why what? People love getting these things.”

“Yes, of course people do, but you’re not one of them—”

“That’s not true at all.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading Mandy Hollander’s letter last year—”

“Her name is Tandy, and she sent it from prison, where she’s spending time for grand larceny.”

“Right. Who knew there was so much going on in prison? But I read it. I treasured it—”

“You used the back of it to write a grocery list.”

“Val, are you going to help me or not?  I’m asking a simple favor. Just read the damn thing and see if I’ve made any grammatical errors.”

I sighed deeply and again began to read slowly.

Dear family and friends,
The year began with a big bang. Larry won some golf tournament in Arizona.

“Okay, wait,” I said. “Couldn’t you at least name the actual tournament?”

“Is that important?”

“I think it would be nice.”

“Okay, okay. I’ll find out. Continue reading.”

I sighed again. “Okay, let’s see what other gems followed the big bang.”

Our son, Sam, took a hotshot job in Houston, where he’s making buckets of money.

“Let’s stop right there. Buckets of money: really? It sounds crass, and why do you even have to mention his salary at all? Isn’t Sam involved in the Houston rodeo—?”

“He’s on a planning committee, not roping calves.”

“It sounds interesting. You should mention that.”

“A rodeo is more interesting than investment banking? Move on, Valerie; get to the good stuff.”

I assumed the good stuff was going to be about her, and I wasn’t wrong.

Earlier in the year I took a course at Le Cordon Bleu to gain a diploma in the culinary arts. It was a thrilling experience—”

“Wait.” I turned to face her. “Didn’t you quit before the course ended?”

“Kind of. Their so-called chef couldn’t boil water—”

“So you never actually got a diploma?”

“I suppose you could say that, but I did get a letter from them.”

“Saying what?”

“They thanked me for my contribution to the class.”

“So that would be a no. No diploma.”

“If you want to look at it that way—”

“Never mind. I’ll keep reading.”

In April the Women’s League of Chicago asked me to be the keynote speaker at their annual fund-raising League of Faith.

“Okay, are you just making stuff up?  Because I certainly don’t remember any keynote speaking.”

“No, I didn’t actually attend. You know I hate that kind of pompous stuff.” (I didn’t know that at all.) “But the point is, they asked me. And I did send them a big fat check.”

I sat back in my chair. “Kit, I think you’re missing the whole point of a Christmas letter. You’re supposed to say what you did, not what you nearly did, or what you agreed to do and then changed your mind about. And you certainly shouldn’t brag about diplomas you didn’t stick around long enough to receive.”

“Geez, you are so picky. So what should I write? Surely something of interest actually happened this year.”

Another sigh from me. “Are you freakin’ kidding me? Does Palm Desert Killing ring any bells?”

She leaned back in her seat. “Do ya think? Does it sound believable?”

Hello, Kitty Kat; it happened. It’s the truth. Who’s not gonna believe it?”

“How should I start?”

“At the very beginning. How you received that weird letter from your sister. How we flew out to California—need I go on?”

“Maybe you’re right.”  She sounded reluctant and needed convincing.

“Maybe we could get two smart women to write a book?” I offered. Then we both laughed. 


Whether you send out a Christmas letter or not, we love hearing from our readers. And please consider this our letter to thank each and every one of you for your support throughout the year. Merry Christmas to you and your families. We wish you happy and safe Holidays.