© Another Day in the Country
Every year I wonder just how long the Christmas card parade will last in our new culture of instantaneous semi-connections. Every year the card count gets smaller.
And it’s not just because a generation communicates on Instagram. I received an email card, would you believe, from one of my oldest and dearest friends.
“What?” I said to myself. But, I know what they were thinking, “Cards are so much slower to receive and so much more labor intensive to send.”
In the absence of a lot of things to say this year, I tried making one of those fancy on-line cards that appeared overwhelmingly in my mailbox last Christmas, with bunches of pictures of people’s grandchildren. In fact, I made one of those myself last year. I had seen this cute idea online for a card with a list of the top ten things that had happened during the year, which just suited my 2014 experience. So I waited for it to go on sale at half price and then ordered them — only one grandchild picture and that was on the back.
I tried that tactic again this year and discovered the cards I’d chosen were going to cost me $3 apiece. I nixed that idea. It was back to homemade cards for me, with or without something momentous to say.
What you say in your cards at Christmas time is an ongoing mystery. I remember my father always hated the long mimeographed letters from distant folks, listing all their children’s achievements and vacations taken. I think he probably didn’t like them partly because we didn’t ever really go on vacation and his daughter’s awards were slim, in his opinion. So what was he going to report?
Instead, Dad preached a sermon in his yearly missive to his congregation and relatives on the Christmas card list. That was his contribution toward keeping “Christ in Christmas,” and a chance to remind folk that laying up treasures in heaven was more to be desired than bargains on Black Friday.
This year, I tried spicing up my homemade Christmas card with a little glitter. I got the idea as we were doing our annual Christmas card art class at Centre. These cards are an art piece, and the children love using glitter, so I thought, “Why not try that for my own cards?”
Some years, I’ve written extensive letters to include with Christmas cards, mostly because I dislike getting cards with just a signature. Some years, they’ve been homemade and some years store-bought. As I sat putting cards into envelopes I found that I couldn’t just sign my name, even though I’d already written the message in the card, because my words were printed. It felt like I should still add something by hand, something more personal.
And what to add? Living in a small town, with a very small circle of interaction, the “news” seems mundane. The biggest news, at my age, is that I’m healthy; maybe that’s the best news at any age. If I’m going to limit my news to just me and not talk about my kids or grandkids, what’s the most important part?
The most important part, I believe, is to be remembered. Even if there isn’t a lot of exciting adventures to report, or outstanding achievements, the card in the mail — with your signature and return address — is enough. That simple Christmas card speaks volumes.
For one thing, it says that you are worth the price of a postage stamp! For another, it reminds you that during this holiday season you are being remembered. That card vicariously says that no matter how isolated you may feel you are part of a community of people who care about you and you are celebrating something in common.
For a few brief days out of the year, most of us are doing the same thing at the same time — celebrating Christmas with its attendant good will. Even if we are complete strangers, there is camaraderie during the holidays. No matter our political party or our belief about abortion rights, we lay those opinions aside and practice peace on earth and good will toward men, on another day in the country.