Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Jan. 20, 2006

From newsletters to no letters

Dad recently received a letter in the mail:

"Just a short note, as I know you must be busy. Why do I think you're busy? You must be, because we haven't heard back from you. Since you're among those celebrating an anniversary as a loyal Reader's Digest subscriber, we've sent you reminders that it was time to continue your subscription. Please respond today! . . ."

I laughed when I finished reading it. Dad hasn't really been all that busy. I think his not responding probably is because of the fact that he died three years ago!

Mail like that is a signal that the holiday season is over and we've probably received the last of our holiday cards, letters and packages. The last to arrive at our house was a packet from Nadja's sister and brother-in-law in Germany. Art and I devoured the chocolate-covered almonds we found inside in about two minutes - a fact Katie was not happy to hear about later. But they were just soooo good! The package also contained a special Christmas chocolate bar, a CD of Christmas music, a beautifully-illustrated Nutcracker book, a personalized calendar filled with photos of family and friends, and lebkuchen, a special German Christmas cake.

I love Christmas for many reasons, but one of my favorites is the tradition of sending and receiving cards and packages. I don't mind if they spill over into the new year because it makes the holiday last longer. In fact, for several years Art and I have purposely waited until after Christmas to send our cards. The delay gives us the chance to carefully read the ones we've received and to respond with specific comments. I know some people scoff at holiday letters filled with talk about the senders' accomplishments and travels and the births, weddings and deaths that occurred during the past year, but I find them interesting. This is the one time of year when I get caught up with friends' and relatives' lives.

A poem in a card I received from Uncle Stan's World War II buddy described my feelings. The poem, "My Christmas Card List," including the following lines:

"I have a list of folks I know, all written in a book,
And every year when Christmas comes, I go and take a look.
That is when I realize these names are all a part,
Not of the book they're written in, but of my very heart. . . .
So, never think my Christmas cards are just a mere routine,
Of names upon a Christmas list, forgotten in between.
For when I send a Christmas card that is addressed to you,
It's because you're on the list of folks I'm endeared to."

I savor the cards and letters we receive and keep the ones that include family information and photographs. Andy Rooney once said that he long ago gave up the notion that anything good was coming in the mail, but I haven't - at least not during the holiday season.

But now all of the excitement of getting cheerful cards is over. Now it will just be bills and junk mail filling up our mailbox. It all sounds so blah that, who knows, maybe Dad will write back!

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