Collecting Christmas cards and memories

Yes, I understand that not many of us send Christmas cards any more. But I still do. I like to get caught up on my people at least once a year, and any time of year I like to find real letters in my mail box. Sure I understand that the email inbox is faster, but there’s just something about holding a piece of paper in my hand that came in an envelope with a real stamp.

I’m rereading the cards I received this Christmas before I file them away, and I think of how many lives have touched mine over the years as I rambled around a bit to a variety of places. This year I sent cards and letters to ten states. Some of those folks still live in the places where we were acquainted, while others have moved on to new adventures.

Looking through these 2017 cards, here’s one from the very first roommate I ever had. That was nearly five decades back, and she–another Iowa farm girl–has lived in Houston for years now. It has been twenty years since we laid eyes on each other, but we don’t miss corresponding every holiday season.

Because I worked on camp staffs in several states while I was in my 20s, some of my cards come from fellow staffers with whom I was especially close back in the day. We are scattered around the country now. Hearing from those folks always makes me smile at them and those memories.

Next in the small stack of cards I received this year there’s a card from an old friend I knew in Ohio who now lives in South Carolina. And here’s another one from her as well. It arrived a week later. I’ve never before received doubles like that in the same year and can’t help wondering if I may have done the same thing to someone else. Could it be that we’re aging?

A few years back I received a Christmas card and letter I won’t forget. It was from another camp friend who’s old enough to be my mother, someone I respected and enjoyed very much. She lives in Ohio and wrote that her Alzheimer’s was progressing. “If you don’t hear from me next year, it’s because the curtain has dropped. But please know that you are important to me. I love you. I’m so thankful that you have been in my life.”

I’ve not heard from Bartie since then, and maybe that’s not so sad after all. What a lovely, enduring gift she left me with in her last Christmas letter. Somehow I don’t believe it would have been the same written via electronic mail.