Thursday, August 5, 2010

Things on Thursday: Holiday Card Box

This is the second post for today. Please scroll down to read this week's essay.

My mother gave me this holiday card box many years ago.

It hangs right inside my front door. I don't empty the cards until we receive our first holiday card of the season. At that time, I go through all the previous year's cards to refresh my memory. Our family and friends are scattered all over the world. Many we haven't seen or talked to outside Facebook in more than a decade. Our main contact with them is through Christmas cards and letters.

That's how I see pictures of babies I knew who are now graduating from high school.

That's how I know that friends have had babies, job changes, breast implants, and vasectomies.

That's how I learned that my dear friend Karen H. in Wichita has cancer of the appendix. I hated that letter but was grateful for it, nevertheless.

There is a world of lives--triumphs, tragedies, celebrations, bragging, sharing--in that simple, beautiful box. It represents how connected we are to people we see and people we don't see, people we knew and cherished and never want to lose from our lives completely.

Sometimes we do lose touch. Sometimes the letters stop coming, and then I suspect divorce. Sometimes people just move, addresses get lost.

I wonder what happened to those friends.

How do you stay in touch with friends and family far away? What helps you feel connected to them still?


  1. Susan, a friend gave me this same container years ago. I don't keep cards in it all year, but I do keep it out all winter, filling it with pine cones. I like your idea.

    I wish I had wise advice on keeping in touch, but I am realizing that even a brief e-mail, note or card is effective in keeping a connection going. I used to think it was all or nothing: a "booklet" containing updates on every area of my life. Sheesh!

  2. I too keep my Christmas cards in the same basket until the new ones arrive. It is my only way of connecting with some folks. Now there is FB and email but my best friend and I still exchange frequent letters with clippings and other interesting news. I love the actual letter in my hand. I just wish I had saved all the letters for the last 20 yrs. we have lived across country from each other. We could fill several books with our lives and the lives of our children.

  3. Facebook has been a great way to reconnect with old friends and even better to stay in touch with family. Those short little status updates can tell you a lot about someone's life!

    I save all cards I receive. I don't remember the last time I received a handwritten letter. Isn't that sad?

  4. I send out lots of holiday letters myself. I have been sending them to everybody in my address book but I think I will start only sending them to people with whom we really communicate. I think I'm going to finally start winnowing down the list. If I have sent somebody a card and letter (I write the letters myself after an adult beverage or two, I consider them the 'anti-Xmas card') every year and not gotten one in return in the last 4 or 5 years, then I will assume that they will be fine without it. Not as a punishment, more like I'm just leaving them alone. More like a reward, really.

    But I love getting cards and letters, even the braggy ones (they are a hoot). A few years ago we got this insanely personal letter from my husband's friend - a guy he hadn't clapped eyes on in probably 15 years. Apparently their marriage was on the rocks but with some counseling and a lot of prayer they worked it out. Holy TMI, Batman! And this was a photocopied letter that they enclosed, not even a handwritten message from the heart. Priceless.

  5. Sending and receiving Christmas cards is one of my favorite holiday traditions. That said I winnow my list every year. I never want the cards to feel like empty gestures to me.


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