Join the Seventh Annual Ornament Swap

"Everything is intense and kinda dark this year," Allison Carter, the assistant digital director at The Indianapolis Star, tweeted today. "If people want to start celebrating the warmth, comfort and goodness of the holiday season on Nov. 1, let them."

So, without further ado, I'm kicking off the seventh annual ornament swap!

For the uninitiated, the swap is an international event in which two people trade holiday ornaments through the mail. Anyone can join (my mom even participates). Over the years, "swappers" from 14 countries have participated. You will be partnered with someone who shares your shipping preferences (domestic vs. international).

As for the ornaments themselves? They can be handmade, store-bought, vintage, crafted, nontraditional — you name it — and should cost between $5 - $12. If you are looking for ideas on what to send your partner, check out the 20122013, and 2014 ornament showcases!


1. Email with the subject line ORNAMENT SWAP.

2. Include your name and postal address.

3. Include your shipping preference (international or domestic).

4. The deadline to sign up is Nov. 17! 

5. Check out previous swaps and encourage others to sign up by using the hashtag #ornamentswaparoo! 

Dear Person(s) I Care About

I want you to know I just took a forty-five-minute shower. My hair is wet, my feet are be-socked, and the lotion I put on smells like black cedar or some such. A scent named after the color of the shirt you're wearing and your favorite tree, anyway. White sequoia. Orange maple. Buffalo plaid gingko. Anyway, I bring this up because I spent three-quarters of an hour trying to think of a way to start this letter, and the best thing I came up with was, "I'm good."

As you know, I struggle with depression and anxiety. The past few years have been challenging, and there were days I refused to get out of bed. Brush my hair. Be a human. Things have changed, though. In March, I started working at Axis Architecture + Interiors, an architecture and design firm in downtown Indianapolis. My title? Marketing coordinator. My duties? Writing proposals, managing the website, and instructing co-workers on why they don't need to put two spaces after a period.* It's been a delight, and I could not have asked for a better "work family." My co-workers are patient, creative, innovative, and empathetic, and I would readily defend all of them.

Strange things happened at the office.

In addition to my full-time gig, I also freelance. (You can find my byline on 100 Resilient Cities, Indianapolis Monthly, Kit, Midwest Living, and Visit Indy, among others.) I also write for a jet boat company in Madison, Indiana. In September, they invited me on a two-day tour of the Ohio and Kentucky rivers. Definitely a highlight of 2017.

I'm on a boat! (Not pictured: Me on the boat.)

This year was also the year I started writing weird crap comedy. I took a few classes through Second City, did stand-up here and there, and dabbled in improv and sketch comedy. I have no desire to be famous, but I do participate in a monthly comedy show here in Indy. Although I still get nervous before every show, my legs no longer shake while onstage. [Insert flashback to any, or all, year(s) of high school.]

Writing was not the only thing that pulled me out of my "funk." Through it all, Ty has been my closest companion and confidante. We crossed the four-year mark in August, and for our anniversary, he gave me a "we go together like cats and more cats" card. (The man gets me.) This past year, we participated in Chicago's annual Bike the Drive event, traveled to Washington, D.C., and re-watched the first 11 seasons of The Simpsons. I have no idea what we'll do in 2018, but I will say this: Ty always makes me laugh, and is ever-selfless and loyal. He's known as "Uncle Ty" to my nephew, Max, who turned two earlier this year. The little tyke has a penchant for guitars and crayons, and I'm curious to see how his creativity expands as he ages.

It took us four years and four drinks, but we finally got a good selfie.

Anyway, I'm just as unsure on how to finish this letter as I was on how to start it. What I'm trying to say is this: I'm happy. 2017 was the year I went without a car, ran multiple half-marathons, and started using Benefiber. I also learned a few things: 1. I will cut myself if I aggressively Windex the bathroom mirror. 2. I can't pull off eucalyptus-scented lotion. (Best stick with buffalo plaid gingko.) 3. Gratitude goes a long way. I could not be where I am today – emotionally, physically, grammatically – without you. Thank you for believing in me, continuing to care for me, and loving me for who I am, and who I could be. You are one of the many reasons my heart is full, and I wish you and your loved ones the most wonderful, happiest of times. 

* Unless you're using a manual typewriter, put only one space after a period.**
** This is the hill I want to die on. 
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