Belated Christmas letter was best ever
November 1, 2020 | View PDF
(Note: Maybe you are saying "Bah humbug" to the idea of sending out Christmas cards or an old-fashioned year-end letter this year. Back in 2017, a friend of mine had the same sentiment, but finally sat down on December 23rd (!) to work on both. Her belated card and letter was,, and remains, the best Christmas greeting I have ever received. Hopefully, the account below will inspire others to get a head start on this precious tradition and bring wonderful cheer to many who have been isolated this year).
It was a belated Christmas card, arriving in my mailbox New Years Eve day, 2018. I tore open the envelope and immediately pulled out the enclosed year-end newsletter.
I thought it would be the traditional "this-is-what-I-did, I thought it would be the traditional "this-is-what-I-did, where-I-went, why-my-grandson-is-a-genius" tome, but my friend's first line was both atypical and intriguing:
"Starting a Christmas letter at 3 p.m. Sunday, December 23, was not something I set out to do."
Uh, huh. Kind of late to be doing that, I thought to myself. My friend's next statement was even more astounding. It was like learning that Amazon wouldn't be shipping Christmas packages any more:
"In fact, this year I'd decided to write no letter at all, nor even to send Christmas cards." What?! Not sending Christmas cards? I was befuddled, confused,
shocked, especially when my friend's admission came with a tinge of justification:
"And then I realized that, over time, many of my friends--the ones still alive and able -- had
ceased sending holiday greetings as well . . . "
Are you kidding me, Patricia! You are not a crowd-follower! I read on:
" . . . and here it is two days before Christmas, and I have received exactly 20 Christmas cards (bless your hearts, dear old-fashioned family and friends)."
Yep, Patricia! One of those cards was from old-fashioned me, thank you! As I read further, I sensed my friend had the Ghost of Christmas Past looking over her shoulder:
"And I started remembering Thanksgiving flights to Grand Rapids, beginning in 1987, when Stan and I would lower our airline trays, divvy up 100+ Christmas cards, and start writing. We received about that many in return, several with letters and photos. And it was good."
Of course it was good, Patricia! We need to hold fast to those traditions that affirm our sense of community. My friend's subsequent confession led to a plan of action:
"So it is with an equal measure of guilt and resolve that I belatedly resume the tradition. Call it a New Year's greeting as it is not likely
to arrive in 2018."
Patricia, Patricia, Patricia. Don't be so hard on yourself. Yes, Dec. 23rd is a little late to be addressing Christmas cards and writing a letter, but you are not Mrs. Scrooge. It was Patricia's concluding paragraph that brought me to tears:
"A friend of mine said recently,
'I'm getting older. I don't know
many years I have left. And I'm saying the word "Love" more often.'
And so, until next
Christmas . . . I love you all, profoundly . . . "
Whew! What a message! My friend's letter made me realize that, more than ever, we need to value family, friendships, and those traditions that lift our spirit and seal our sense of belonging. This truly is the year we need to send greeting cards, scatter joy, pay it forward, do random acts of kindness, speak words of encouragement, and, above all, love profoundly.
Like I said, belated or not, that 2017 Christmas letter was the best ever.
Jean Mlincek is a freelance writer who resides in St. Petersburg, Fla