Posted by: donrhymer | December 24, 2013

‘Tis the Season

Here’s the last Christmas letter Don wrote at the end of 2010.  He didn’t write one in 2011 – he wasn’t feeling well and I remember him saying, “I’ll write one next year”.  I can just see him writing these letters – he would sit in his chair with his computer on his lap and all of a sudden start laughing out loud at his own jokes.  He cracked himself up.

This feels like our first Christmas without him – last year we were all so numb, but this year it is real.  And it’s much harder than I expected or imagined.  The kids are all home (except Scarlett, who is with her family on the east coast) and we’ll open presents tomorrow morning, go to the Gallagher’s for brunch, have my sister and her family over for dinner, and then friends over for dessert.  Another family gathering that Don would love.  I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that he’s not here.

The end of Don’s last letter sums up exactly the way I feel – I could never have walked this path without my kids, my family, my friends, my God.  “Unfortunately, cancer is a family journey… Each one handled this very scary season of life with courage, grace and a steadfast faith.”  That statement rings as true today as it did when Don wrote it.  Maybe even more so.

I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing his voice again, because posting his letters has been very therapeutic for me.  His words, his humor, his wisdom – are all such a gift.  I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and happy holidays.  Oh, and another shout-out to Campbell for the Christmas pajamas!

Merry Christmas, Donald.

– Kate

From 2010:


As you all know, I’m a very busy man.  Perhaps the busiest man in the known world.  What with the binge snack eating and designing my line of festive toaster magnets, it’s a struggle every day to squeeze in a series of refreshing catnaps.

Obviously, there is no way I can set aside the important work I’m doing and write a Christmas letter.  So, I decided to go back through my Twitter account and post some of my “tweets” that tell the story of our year.  You may feel this is copping out, but like I said, I’m busy.  I mean, this sleeve or Oreos is not going to eat itself.

Jan. 1 – You ever have the feeling that nothing can go wrong?  That this is going to be the bestest year ever?  Bring on 2010!

Jan. 15 – Molly working as the assistant to a celebrity stylist.  Mortified that her father still buys his jeans at the hardware store.  “But they’re only nineteen dollars!”

Feb. 2 – On vacation in Lanai.  The maid at the Four Seasons didn’t bring my feather pillow.  Well, at least the year can’t get any worse than this.

Feb. 9 – Kate begins a slow descent into mid-life crisis.  Chardonnay at breakfast?  Prescription drugs?  Sleeping with the UPS man?  No, Kate takes up tap dancing!

Feb. 21 – Visting Boston for Carrie’s birthday.  An acting major, she loves Emerson College and has so many wonderful friends.  What a great decision.

Feb. 22 – It’s minus 9 degrees in Boston.  There is four inches of snot frozen to my upper lip.  She was an idiot for coming here and we’re thinking of having her committed, or at the very least hobbled so she can’t come back.

March 8 – Andrew heads back to work for the second year as a production assistant on HBO’s “Bored to Death”.  The boy is making a living in the film business in New York.  This is a miracle from God and making a joke would only jinx it.

April 1 – Dodger baseball is back!  I just took out a second mortgage on the house and bet it all that Manny is going to have a huge year and take us to the World Series!

April 4 – Kate becomes Volunteer Coordinator at Elizabeth House, a shelter for homeless pregnant women.  This officially makes her the most benevolent tap dancer in Southern California since Shirley Temple.

April 6 – A gorgeous day in Southern California, I casually stopped by my doctor’s office for a check-up… Oh shit…

April 12 – I have a fun-filled morning at USC getting a radical neck dissection, which leaves me with a nine inch scar.

April 17 – “The Scar” grows in power and influence.  Ultimately taking a part time job at Denny’s, meeting a lovely Filipino woman and moving into a moderately priced garage apartment in Reseda.

June-August – Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.  A summer of humorous discontent.  For details see

Sept. 7 – Molly to work at Madewell, a woman’s clothing store.

Sept. 10 – Andrew producing a series of educational videos.

Oct. 7 – Carrie chosen for study abroad spring program in the Netherlands.

Oct. 23 – Kate serving on Board of Directors of Elizabeth House.

Nov. 9 – Don eats solid food without gagging and uses a big boy potty!

Fun year, huh?  Well, actually with a few notable exceptions, it was.

I was standing on the corner in Pasadena yesterday and an old, possibly insane man was staring at me.  I try not to return the stare of the possibly insane.  Andrew taught me that during my one and only ride on a NY subway, but I could tell he was taking in “the scar”.

He finally tapped me on the shoulder and said: “Life hit you hard.”

He was right.  Between the cancer and the deaths of my mom, dad and grandmother, life hit all of us in the Rhymer family hard this year, but I’d like to think we fought back a little too.  Unfortunately, cancer is a family journey, and I must say… one I couldn’t have made without Kate and my kids.  Each one handled this very scary season of life with courage, grace and a steadfast faith.

And our thanks to you all – family, dear friends and casual acquaintances alike, for your thoughts, prayers, cards, blog comments, good wishes, flowers, candy, yogurt, muffins, and a special shout-out to Goldberg and Campbell for the various fruits of the month.

We could not have made it through this one without each one of you.  Now please…





  1. Kate, Andrew, Molly and Carrie,

    Thank you for sharing these letters. The humor, wisdom, and true love of (and pride in) his family are evident in Don’s words, and it was wonderful to feel as if I was ‘looking into the window’ of the Rhymer family household. It makes me smile to know you have such wonderful memories as Don laughing at his own jokes and cracking himself up. I know you miss him with all your heart, but I also know you believe that even though he is no longer physically present, he is indeed still with you.

    Although I have no gift or words of wisdom of my own, may I offer you the sentiments of perhaps the most famous editorial ever written: “You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernatural beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.”

    May you be blessed with joy-filled memories and a beautiful, sacred Christmas.

    All the best,

  2. Look! I actually checked in on your blog! It’s a new Liz. Been thinking about you, and praying for a quietly blessed Christmas. Sounds like you’ll have a busy one.
    Love, Liz

  3. Love love love his sense of humor and I hope you all are having a sweet time together though I know there is an ache in your heart Merry Christmas to all the rhymers!!
    With love from Alabama
    Lisa Parker

  4. All I can say right now is “I LOVE YOU KATE”, thank you for sharing with us your intimate details of love and living that remind us all of great loss, great love and amazing faith.

    Your in our thoughts and prayers often. Let us know when we can take you out to dinner…

    Love, Judi

    Sent from my iPad


  5. Merry Xmas Kate and Family! Don’s spirit is alive and well on Green Lane. He is watching over our little cul de sac. Love ya and Bless you always…Perez Family

  6. Kate, I don’t know if you will receive this note,but I want you to know I have read all the emails to radiate Don and I have laughed and cried and have been so touched by all of them,and your courage through it all. I am not sure you remember me, but I can picture you all and the memories through the years. I have been a widow for almost 28 years and empathize with your life of joy and sorrow as you send these emails for all of us. My prayers are with you and your wonderful family. Thank you for the blessings we all have received through you.Martha

  7. Kate: Thanks for posting these again. It was good to hear Don’s voice and think about him over the holidays, and as I did, to lift up prayers for you and the kids. Blessings to you all.

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