Every year, for some considerable time now, when I write my Christmas cards, I include a computer-written round-robin letter in them, telling people what we have been doing during the past year. First, it saves having to hand-write a letter to every one of the hundred or so we send cards to, secondly it keeps people we haven't seen for a while up to date and thirdly I actually love receiving similar kinds of letters from other people at Christmas. If I have been unable to see them for two, three, four, ten years, it is a nice way of catching up with their news. I also keep copies of my own letters, so over a period of time, I can look back and see what we did in any given year. One of our acquaintances has said in the past that they felt insulted receiving the same printed newsletter from us sent to all and sundry, but apart from that one person, most have said they look forward to receiving them and hearing our news.
Over the last few years I have had increasing trouble knowing what to write about Greg. Only a small handful of people know there is anything wrong with Greg apart from his diabetes and heart trouble. They know nothing whatsoever about the alcoholism. The first person I ever shared the problem with, about four years ago, was Greg's sister and for a long time she was the only other person who knew. Then my mother witnessed things at first hand when she stayed over with us one Christmas. Then a year or so further on, Greg's mother (who is sadly no longer with us) found out. Gradually I felt brave enough to share my dilemma with my two closest friends and finally, eighteen months ago, Kay's teacher, who needed to know in case Kay's school work suffered. In fact, it was the telling of the teacher that finally pushed me into writing my blog, because that was the first (and only) person outside close friends and family whom I had told and that seemed to give me courage to get things off my chest into cyberspace. However, apart from those six people, the rest of our circle of friends, neighbours and family know absolutely nothing at all. Some might have guessed (certainly neighbours in recent months), but most have no idea at all. I have often had to make excuses to others about Greg's absence from social gatherings, about why he doesn't drive anywhere these days or about his hospitalisations. The usual excuse is that he has problems resulting from diabetes and the poor circulation in his legs. It is true he has those complaints but they are not of course solely the reasons for his absences, inability to drive or hospitalisations. I have even blamed his absences on the fact that he has to babysit for the dog. I sometimes wonder if I should just come clean and tell everyone the truth as the situation arises, but then I feel I might somehow be disloyal to Greg, doing the dirty on him, washing our linen in public. (I suppose the same could be said of this blog, but then I do try to cover up our real identity, so Greg's privacy is protected.)
Up until this year there was always equal news in our newsletters about all three of us. However, my Christmas letter this year contains lots of news about Kay and myself. There is a very small paragraph buried in the middle just to say Greg had been ill in hospital again and was now housebound. He read my draft through a few days ago and commented "there's not much about me in it". What more could I write? That he drinks all day? Watches TV from morning till the following early morning and naps on the dining chair at odd times of the day? That he has all sorts of illnesses building up from the excess of alcohol? That his hygiene has gone to seed? That he never goes anywhere or does anything? Perhaps I could make up something, such as he is planning to climb Killimanjaro or has taken up stamp-collecting? I asked him what he would like me to write instead. He thought for a minute and then said my draft was fine.