The Christmas Card Connection
We all have our idiosyncrasies, those quirky preferences and curious character traits that make us gorgeously unique. In some ways, these are the traits that allow us to shine, to shout, “This is me!” proudly, unabashedly. My quirkiness sometimes shows up in my inability (or unwillingness) to connect the often peculiar dots of life in a straight line. When I see a blinking light in the night sky over the Green Gulch, I instantly think, “The revolution has begun. The aliens have arrived, intent on claiming Branch.” I know- only someone from Branch would think that. Last night, Chris found a piece of black plastic in our recliner, a pointed shard that looked strangely like a fingernail. The night before that, a few ornaments had tumbled down from our Christmas tree. Could there be a witch in the Easter Cove? A witch who isn’t fond of Christmas? And then there was the time a few years ago when the yellow Mount Carmel Building Supplies cube van rolled down our driveway. “Oh my God!” I silently screamed, “Oprah is here to surprise me.” She wasn’t. But Oprah, you’re welcome anytime. No straight lines. Only curvy ones with fuzzy edges. But there is one straight line that appears every year at this time without fail...the intimate and palpable connection between the holy season of Christmas and the unmistakable feeling of joy. The connection between Christmas and joy is a simple one. We feel it when we become aware of the humble arrival of our great friend, Jesus; when we see and feel the generosity and love that abounds when family and friends gather, when a feeling of warmth and communal commitment to all that is good and true is easy and plentiful. From the sacredness of this season to its sparkly splendour, one little piece of Christmas seems to be getting lost amidst the grandeur - the modest and lovely Christmas card. It’s very existence is an ode to a time before technology when we communicated using the simplest of ingredients- pen, paper and postage. Oh, and sentiment! There is something to be said for receiving a Christmas card in the mail. The decisive act of opening an actual envelope, the weight of the paper card in your hands, the outer images conveying anything from Santa peeking out of a brick chimney to the quiet divinity of the nativity, and then, of course, the message inside conveying wishes for a blessed holiday... In essence, you know and feel that someone has taken the time to send their best wishes to you, without the hurried magic of email or text, during the busiest time of the year. Christmas cards have always been a part of the Christmas season for us. Each December, we mail dozens upon dozens of cards to family and friends and even acquaintances near and far. And the act itself is precious. Choosing the cards- This year we sent cards with Snoopy peddling a bike packed with gifts of green and gold along with cards depicting Mary and Joseph and the shepherds welcoming Jesus. Choosing the pen- which of course has to be red or green with a dash of sparkle. Writing the note - a note that conveys a meaningful message wishing health and happiness. This year, each card also asked recipients to consider adding a bit of fun to their new year. Our list holds names from people who are closest to acquaintances that we have been blessed enough to cross paths with this year. We continue to send cards to bed and breakfast guests we met over a decade ago. Each year, when notes arrive from Switzerland and New Mexico, we are offered an opportunity to relive cheerful memories. I am romanticizing the act of Christmas card writing, I know. I also know that we now live in a time of instant messaging, of screens, incessant technology. I live in this world too and I, like most of you, enjoy it. Yet, taking the time just once a year to share the joy and love you feel with a the simple act of sending a Christmas card really does add to the goodness of the season. Last year , I brought this joy into the new year by following the sage advice of a writer called Patricia Livingston. She suggested, starting in January, using Christmas cards as jot notes to make your grocery list or any list. As you pull out the Christmas card to record a few reminders for the day, offer a little prayer for the sender. On this fifth day of Christmas as we ponder the beauty of the Christmas season, may we never forget the value of small tasks in this big world. Let us always remember that while technology can bring us closer, the importance of genuine, human connection can only benefit us in the year ahead. Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy, Fun New Year to everyone from Chris and myself.