christmas in july and the anna karenina principle

the anna karenina principle of relationships goes roughly like this:


don’t get me wrong–i appreciate a russian literary minded dude just as much as the next gal.* but i think tolstoy had it wrong.  sure, unhappy families are interesting and exotic and make for great reality television.  but happy families?  well, they can’t all be the same because my facebook friends lane and sheila wheeler and their daughter star are, well, not the same as any other happy family.

there is no holiday i know that doesn’t get kicked off without an email from lane.  he compiles and creates the best jokes and observations that whets your appetite for halloween right around october fifteenth and st. patrick’s day on march 1.  the family is the one you know at the end of the block whose halloween decorations inspire selfies on the front lawn and christmas stuff creates parking jams from people who put out a single wreath on the front porch but aspire to more.  the wheelers are happy precisely because they reach right out and grab life for a bff hug.

this july i was delighted to join the wheelers for their traditional christmas celebration. there was a tannenbaum, a viewing of frosty the snowman, seasonal sweaters, christmas cookies, revelers, and white elephant gifts.

i took home a funnel cake maker.  i had been hoping for diamonds, but i think that's the point of white elephant parties.

i took home a funnel cake maker. i had been hoping for diamonds, but i think that’s the point of white elephant presents.

and of course, there were carols. . .

i felt festive and gay as i left the joint.  and also, just a teeny bit envious.  the wheelers are happy.  and not the same as every other happy family.  i would like that for myself.  and for everyone else.

so my thank you note to the wheelers (all right you can watch it too) is enclosed herein.


*maybe not putin.  i’m not clear on whether putin has written any novels or plays, but he’s a bit of a rennaisance man, what with his karate and bear wrestling and singing.  just the sending missiles to ukraine to shoot down planes is not a hobby i appreciate.




5 responses to “christmas in july and the anna karenina principle

  • Don Wainwright

    So happy to hear about your having some fun. Yes, people like the Wheelers are God’s special gifts to the world. Happiness is really just a choice but have you stopped to catch your breath and decide what happiness looks like for you?

    You’re good at word pictures. If you had to paint a picture of what happiness looks like for you what would it be? I think that mostly it’s a matter of us just letting the picture happen.

    Tolstoy and Putin were/are under the influence of too much English weather and vodka so I don’t think they count except as miserable wretched examples of unhappy.

    • arlynnpresser

      don, you sweetpea, yes it’s good for me to have fun and remind myself that it’s okay for me to do so. i am made in God’s image as much as the next person. the wheelers are indeed God’s special gift and i’m really blessed to be their friend. as for what happiness would look like i think it would be really trusting God’s love for me. and that i can love others without fear. the latter of which has become a really important issue for me this past year. and yea, putin and tolstoy, the russian condition. . . like the french ennui. have you seen the movie “russian ark”? it’s gorgeous and tells me everything i want to know about russia. the ending is just so damn cool.

      • Don Wainwright

        YES – it is ok for Arlynn to have fun! A friend of mine who I’m convinced got into psychiatric medicine to figure out what was wrong with him uttered something quite profound while we were watching “The Three Stooges Ultimate Collection” last week. He said that after 20 years of practice and dealing with thousands of patients, he’s come to the conclusion that, “happiness is derived in large part from the ability to forget; maybe the more we can forget, the better.” (he had what I consider to have been a particularly horrible childhood)

        As I was watching Moe run a saw across Curley’s head and breaking the teeth off of it (they are really bad carpenters), I found this to ring true for myself. I’m not a sulker, but I have a tendency to hold myself to a too tight accounting for things that are no longer in my control or words that I can’t bring back. So, for me the way is forward. Work on the future and let the past go. We need to forgive ourselves, if God’s done it, what’s left for us to worry about?

        I didn’t get to see the “Ark” but heard that it’s something of a surreal experience.

      • arlynnpresser

        the ark is well worth it. and who knew the three stooges are life lessoners. and yeah, i don’t need judgments from people who don’t love me and yeah God’s got it in the bag. xxoo

  • Todd S. Parkhurst

    Great stuff.

    You really had agreed gestures and voice with these little kids!

    Todd S. Parkhurst | Attorney
    t. 312-604-2626 | f. 312-604-2627 |
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