Yep, it’s that time of year when my partner and I set up the assembly line to get out our holiday greeting cards. Every year I keep saying to myself that I have to cut the list, yet each year it seems to grow longer.
Let’s see, 128 cards to family (I have a very large family), 154 cards to “elder buds” who I adore and see throughout the year and who receive birthday cards from me as well, and about 120 others — life-long friends from elementary, junior high, high school, and college, additional friends I’ve made over the years, my former host families in Europe, as well as some elected officials who I work with.
Believe it or not, 402 cards is less than it had been. People and jobs change, circumstances where you knew people change, and some people have died.
I need to work on this list, but … I just get into that Christmas frame of mind and get a little emotional, spiritual, and misty. And while mass-produced cards with an annual photocopied Christmas letter, sent using a word-processed mailing label, is not as personal as I would like it to be, there’s just so much time available to get this all done.
Over the last few nights, my partner and I had the assembly line set up in our basement. We put DVDs of It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street and my partner’s favorite, Ziggy’s Gift on to watch, and get to work. There I am saying the lines in the movies, “Mary, Mary…” or when George says “Merry Christmas Mr. Potter!” and old Potter replies, “Merry Christmas to you, in jail!” or “Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to,” while my partner smiles and rolls his eyes. I’ll hum to the tunes in Ziggy’s Gift because Ziggy doesn’t talk. He just smiles, helps out, and makes magic happen. His Christmas miracle makes my partner get all teary-eyed, while I shed a tear every time Susan discovers the miracle of the holiday granted by Kris Kringle, or George finds Zuzu’s petals when he’s brought back to real time and hugs Bert the cop.
I sign our names to the card and letter, and put on the address label on the envelope. My partner puts the card and the letter in the envelope, seals it, puts on a return address label and a stamp, and then I’m off to terrorize the US Postal Service.
And to think, I heard a news report recently that the number of cards being sent this year has dropped significantly. Well, shucks, not for me. It’s a holiday tradition, and something I look forward to doing. I think of all the people in our lives who have made it so much richer and rewarding, remembering one of Clarence’s line in It’s a Wonderful Life:
“Strange isn’t it. Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole doesn’t he?”
THIS, my friends, is why I volunteer, why I serve, and why I love my family and friends. This hole is filled, not empty, because we all fill it with how intertwined our lives are, making each person through each of our actions just a little bit better each and every day.
Life is short: show those you love that you love them.