Sunday, November 27, 2011

Christmas Letters


Christmas cards have always been an integral part of the Christmas season for me…unfortunately; they seem to be going out of style as is the handwritten letter.  Isn’t it sad that many of the younger generation will never understand the value of a letter or even a newsy email?  They only want to communicate in short tweets or texts and don’t care for the long and leisurely conversation that lasts over 140 characters. 

When I was a little girl, I vividly remember watching my mother sit at the kitchen table writing out notes in her Christmas card.  Mom had absolutely beautiful handwriting with an artistic flair – I’ve seen letters that she wrote to her sister and mother and those old Christmas notes had bits and pieces of their lives that I had never known.  I remember that it was exciting as a young child getting those Christmas letters in the mail and having my chance to read them.  There was a wealth of information in them about family activities and events – connections to old and new friends and in some cases an actual Christmas card that came to me personally.  Those Christmas cards were often a shared time with my parents when I learned about their friends and our family and learned how to read different handwriting and words that I wasn’t used to.  For me…they were a learning opportunity that I took advantage of. 

We still have some of the old Christmas cards and letters that were sent by family members – and many of the Christmas letters that my mother sent out once she got a computer.  I think Mom was one of the first people I know of who sent out a Christmas newsletter every year.  I look back on those old letters and relive some of the wonderful memories of the last 30 years.  One year she sent out some favorite family recipes, when her grandkids came along – her letters were full of them.  When I moved out on my own, I too sent out Christmas cards.  My list was much smaller than my parents but even then they were full of friends who I had not seen for a long time as well as beloved family members. I followed my mother’s example and wrote my own Christmas letter that was full of everything that was important to me – my job & home, my family & friends and my pet.  Not too terribly imaginative but they improved with practice.

Today I send out cards to my parent’s friends and family and my own.  I still remember that last Christmas letter that my Mom sent out.  She wasn’t feeling well and I helped her write it, print it, and got her labels done.  There were still many that she wrote a handwritten note to.  Mom downplayed her own health problems and instead focused on the positive…that was her attitude.  I’m sure when everyone went through their cards at the end of the Christmas season that year that they paused on her card.  So, now when I write my letter, print it and my labels then sit at the kitchen counter to write a note or two, I feel a kinship with my mother and grandmother and all of the other family members who have shared Christmas cards through the years.  Perhaps someday – someone will pick of that old letter and read it and wonder about the people in the letter.  Perhaps they too will take it upon themselves to research and find out who they were.  Those letters are a window to our lives and communicate what is important to use as the years pass by.  Wouldn’t you love to find a passel of letters written by your ancestors…and if you did – wouldn’t they be a precious resource!