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“Jen Michalski’s second novel is an intense emotional commitment, but a worthwhile one.” – Ploughshares


“Jen is an astonishingly sensitive writer.” – HTML Giant


“Jen Michalski excels in subtlety that is made possible by her nuanced understanding of voice.” – The Rumpus


“Jen is a writerly heavyweight.” – Nate Brown, American Short Fiction


“We’re lucky to have Michalski before the rest of the world discovers her. But they will.” – Baltimore City Paper

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The Most Wonderful Day of the Year

I never thought I'd be celebrating a bittersweet Christmas. And yet we all have them once, twice, often more, in our lifetimes—death and disease and breakups don't take breaks for the holidays. But I've finally gotten to the point over the last few years of really enjoying the holiday season, of tempering my disdain for the commercialization of it, to enjoy family and their idiosyncrasies, and to really be thankful for all the love and compassion and generosity I've received during the year from so many people.

But then, this year, I lost my last two grandparents in the first weeks of December, and, combined with the general winter blahs that descend upon me, have been really fighting to stay focused and happy. To that end, I have a lot to keep me focused, mainly because I put myself in situations in which people depend on me for things, and I pride myself on my dedication to coming through: getting the fifth print issue of jmww to the printer, finishing up the winter online issue (which should be up any time), guest editing a week at Smokelong, and teaching another writing class in January at the Creative Alliance. Also AWP, and meeting so many people I have gotten the chance to know online for so many years. And, of course, trying to finish the first draft of The Tide King. And there are always the needs of my family and even my pets—how selfish it would be to let them all down.

But I would be lying if I said it wasn't hard, that I wasn't afraid of dipping into a depression. I've been trying to get a lot of jogging in at the gym and eating fruit and trying to sleep reasonably well, and maybe if I fake it long enough I'll make it. And then, when I think of my grandparents, maybe their memories will make me smile instead of want to cry. And when I think of the inevitable loss of my own mother and brother and partner, I can take some solace that it is a natural, albeit painful circle of life. And even if I do cry still, I know I can depend on my family and friends to cheer me up.

So that's what I'm banking on to get me through—that even though this Christmas won't be the most wonderful day of the year for me, there's 364 other days that have great promise. And I'm going to give my best to enjoy every one of them.