The weather outside was frightful so I put a log on the fire, got out last year’s stash of Christmas cards and letters and read them again. I do that each year, generally on the first Sunday of Advent, as a way of easing into the holiday season. Most of those letters were about journeys. Some of our friends had moved across the country in 2018. A lot of the letters spoke of travels to reunions, weddings, or funerals and others mentioned new grandbabies and the loss of dear friends or family members. Some spoke of diagnoses that are worrisome, but the general tone of these messages was optimism.” I’ll be celebrating the end of my radiation treatments next week,” one person wrote.

One of my adult granddaughters told of her promotion at work and other milestone events; then added that there had been some rough patches and challenges. “But I’m learning to view them as lessons in growth, to respond, rather than react. I guess this means that I’m finally a grownup.” I’m thrilled that she’s learning this in her thirties—it took me another decade to get there.

A neighbor reported that she was late sending out her letter because she hadn’t realized how hard it would be to do this after losing a family member. I can relate; our family has lost a couple of dear ones in 2019.

Dear friends made a collage of pictures from events through their year, and closed the letter with these words. “Time marches on. Time flies, and so forth. My wish is that when I have time on my hands I will lift them up and offer thanks for my blessings. Their names are on this page, and your name is here as well.”

One friend listed some highs and lows for the previous year, but reminded us that God is most present in the lows.

A lot of people have given up sending Christmas cards, but it’s one of the traditions I cherish. I can skip the parties, travel in snowstorms just to spend a day eating too much, and blowing the budget on presents. But the cards bring precious friends and family members right into the living room, even if we haven’t met face to face in years. I get to know where their kids live and how many grandchildren they have, who has passed on, and how they are faring health wise, now that Father Time has his hand on our shoulders. 

I hope you can be home for the holidays with a basketful of Christmas greetings to peruse on a stormy December day. And that you find some way to connect with those who have made you laugh, given support or inspiration, and had your back over the years, even if you no longer send Christmas cards.

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