One of the things I like best about Christmas time is Christmas cards! I love reaching into the mailbox and pulling out envelopes of all sizes and colors, knowing that within them lie greetings from far and wide. As our family’s pile of cards grows, it warms my heart to hear from family and friends. I remember as a little girl being just as enamored with Christmas cards. This was before the days of photo cards so often the cards were from people I didn’t know. But I’d pore over the cover designs, signatures, and handwritten greetings all the same. I can even remember my mom keeping track of who she sent cards to and who she received cards from…they even made little address books for that very purpose. And too many years in a row without receiving a card from someone caused them to be dropped from her list!
These days, sometimes the only time I hear from a friend is through their annual Christmas card and vice versa. This isn’t a complaint – I’m grateful for the tradition because it keeps the connection alive between us, even if just once a year. As I write out the envelopes, I always pause and think of each name and who that person is to me. There’s Katie, whom I worked with at one of my first professional jobs when I lived in Connecticut. There’s Doug, whom I met at the Fish Church (First Pres, Stamford CT) and who became a dear friend to Eric and me. There’s Mrs. Schafer, who was my mom and dad’s friend, who I began sending a Christmas card to after my mom passed away in 2017. The list goes on and on as Christmas card lists tend to do!
Each person on my list holds a special place in my heart. There are memories and stories attached to each one. There’s Cornelia, another friend of my parents, whom my sister and I thought the world of as we were growing up. She is an artist and always designed her own cards. When her card arrived in the mail, the race was on to be the lucky one to open it because we knew it would contain a literal work of art. There’s Mr. and Mrs. Aslam, parents of my high school best friend. As a teenager, Mrs. Aslam was a little intimidating – you were wise to stay on her good side. But as an adult, I recognize the fierce love for her family that drove her then and now. There are aunts and uncles, cousins, and in-laws, who represent the long history of our families and their unbreakable bonds.
My Christmas card list also marks changes which deserve to be remembered and honored, too. There’s always a change of address or two, of course. But there are also changes due to loss. One family on my Christmas card list experienced divorce this year, so while they’re still a family, I know that this Christmas will be different for each one of them. And perhaps the saddest of all are the names on the list who are no longer with us here on Earth. It’s a stark reminder of the precious gift of life.
As Christmas draws near, may we remember our family and friends, those near and those far away, those we talk to regularly and those whom we contact but once a year. May we also hold fast to the memories of those who are no longer with us. May we be nourished by the richness of each friendship and allow them to brighten our path.