Dear Blog,

For Christmas last year, Ken gave me a very nice bottle of whiskey, appropriately called “Writer’s Tears”. I’ve been waiting for what seemed like an appropriate time to open it, and I just did. I’ve poured myself a tiny celebratory dram, and am sitting down to write to you.  I have done this (sitting down to write to you, not the whiskey part) thousands of times over the last eleven years. The very first time was January 23rd, 2004. Ken, in a move I still think was self-defence, gave me this blog as a present.  (I suspected then, and still do now, that as much as he likes knitting, he desperately wanted me to have someone else to discuss it with.)  That first day, I sat down at the computer, in the dining room – that was where we kept it then. We didn’t have laptops, just a big honking family computer in the dining room, where we could see what everyone was doing online – and I had a cup of coffee, and this crazy laminated sheet of paper beside me that had all these HTML codes on it.

It took me hours to write that first one. If I had known what I was starting, it would have been even more angst filled.  I wrote the words, then painstakingly figured out the HTML, and then hit post. In that moment, gentle readers, I swung open the doors to my virtual living room, and it was a decision I’ve never regretted for a moment.

In this house, we think of you as The Blog. I know I’ve told you that before, that even though I know that you are real people, and real individuals, and even though who comprises the blog shifts and changes from year to year – to us you are The Blog. To us, you are like a flock of birds, wheeling and existing together, swirling round and making a big community that we think of as a unit.  “What does the blog say?” “What will the blog think?” “I can’t wait to tell The Blog.”   I know that technically, the blog is the thing that I write, the posts that I put up. The collection of all the digital moments and ideas that I collect here, but that’s not really how we think of it.  I know I write a blog, but to us, our whole family, there is the blog – what I write, and The Blog, and that’s the people who read it.

In the eleven years that I’ve been doing this, my family has changed. My kids were little when I started, and now they’re grown women. Hank was three the day I wrote the first blog, and now he’s taller than me. (Some of you may have missed it, but Hank comments on the blog now. I don’t even know how that happened.)  Some people who were part of it are gone, like Tupper, and Janine – and some others have joined us – like Lou, and Myrie, and I cannot think of those losses and gains without their stories being all mixed up in The Blog. There’s pictures of them here. The moments that they left, or the moments that they arrived are documented, with all of the pain and the joy,  and all of you were here when it happened. You are, somehow, even though most of you are strangers to me, part of our family’s story.

Other than the actual family that surrounds me every day, The Blog has been the most important force that I’ve ever reckoned with. There have been people in my life who don’t understand this. They’ve called The Blog my imaginary friends, or internet friends, and if there was any chance that they would ever understand, I would try to explain.  You’re real. Your impact on my life is real. The changes you create, the good you do, the support for the things that I try and do and feel, is real.  The Blog is a thing. A real thing.

This morning, I reminded Joe that it was my Blogiversary. “Eleven years!” I said.  “Wow.” He replied.  “How do you want to celebrate? Would you like to go out to dinner?”   I thought about that for a moment, and then I said “No, that’s silly. It’s a silly thing to celebrate. It’s okay.”

Joe looked at me, and he said “I’d argue that The Blog changed our lives Steph. That’s not even a little silly.” He smiled, and he left, and he’s right- except about one thing. He shouldn’t take me to dinner. We should take you – and if we could, I’d pour you a little of this (very, very nice) whiskey, and I’d say this.

Thank you.

For being there for me when bad things happened, and for being there when it all went right. For watching my kids grow up, and for the way that your kindness and criticism have shaped our family.  Thank you especially for occasionally recognizing my children in public, and giving them the general impression that The Blog was watching them.  I think they made better choices because so many people cared. Thank you for celebrating births, and comforting me through deaths, and thank you for meeting me in random cities all over North America, when I was on book tours, and bringing me sandwiches and bottles of beer, and making me feel like I was tethered to real people, and real things as I navigated a surreal experience (or eight.) Thank you for coming to the real events we can share together, like classes and retreats. Thank you for always answering the question “Is anybody there?” with a resounding YES, and caring about the things that other people in the world sometimes think are silly. Like bind-offs, and buttonbands, and making things with your own two hands instead of buying them at Walmart, and thank you, thank you always, for your generosity to us.  We love you.

A toast then, as I lift my glass. Ladies and Gentlemen, please be upstanding, and know that you are remarkable, you are valuable, and you are a force. You are The Blog. My Blog, and your hand in my life is not now, nor has it ever been, inconsequential.

Cheers, and thank you for for eleven years. To Ken for starting it, to you for making it a thing.