Christmas cards have been, throughout my life, a means by which I touch others lives, to connect and express my fondness, care and friendship. I’ve always enjoyed finding cards and since I became a mother, I’ve had photo cards made every year. I took extreme care in having just the perfect photo of my son. One year it was my son and our new puppy. He wore a navy sweater and the dog was black, not the best choices but cute, nonetheless. I think I’ve managed to send cards out every year except for this year. Reason being, I had a snafu at the last minute while ordering my cards and had to cancel the order. I didn’t order a sentiment on the card and didn’t realize it until after I had placed the order and got back home to review it. I didn’t bother to reorder at that late date. There was just too much to do make extra trips for the cards. I had to let it go.
It’s December 28th and so far, I’ve received 2 cards. Both are from Maryland, my friends Terrell and Mary and his father Vic, both of whom I’ve not seen in about 10 years. We continue to remain in touch, thanks to the computer age. So my two cards got me to thinking. I wonder if all these years, I’ve received cards just because I sent cards. I mean, was I not on anyone else’s normal list or do people just send cards out as they receive cards in? Not that I’m any testament to a process but I have my standard list in a word document that contains all my family and friends and I even add to it during the year. It’s like a quasi-address book. I learned that after a few years of having to recreate the list, there had to be a better way. I was younger and dumber until then.
Now here comes some guilt for having even brought this subject into light. I know some of my family has seen some rough times this year. My Uncle Jim was just diagnosed with leukemia and holiday anything has to be the last thing on my Aunt Sabrina’s mind. She also has to care for her live in parents as well and she’s been taking trips, probably daily to Huntsville to see about him. Their daughter, Renea is a pharmacist and a mom of two young boys, I know her focuses have changed this season as well. My Aunt Irene is relatively invalid and doesn’t get out so that is understandable. My Aunt Yvonne is in advanced stages of alzheimers (I didn’t capitalize because it doesn’t deserve to be capitalized) and though she recognizes me, she doesn’t even remember what Christmas is. My mom who cares for both my Aunt Irene and my Aunt Yvonne is excused easily. I have some cousins that have suffered divorce this year and that whole process will make you want to avoid Christmas altogether. I’ve had friends who have lost their jobs, I’m sure they would rather skip Christmas as well.
I did manage to receive a couple of cards a work. One is a cute animal card from a co-worker and a beautiful photo card from a new mom who is a co-worker. I also received a couple of corporate e-holiday cards. It’s the whole “green” movement. It was nice. I mean, I guess I could say they didn’t HAVE to do that. My company even promoted a holiday E-card campaign. I didn’t followup on that.
Last week, I caught an interview on NPR with Senator Edward Kennedy’s widow, Victoria Reggie Kennedy. Now, I’m not a real fan of the Kennedys but I have marveled through the years of their life and their family relationships. The point I got out of the whole interview was that Victoria stated with great depth that Teddy “tended to his relationships. He took time for his friends.” That hit home with me. For once, I was envious of the late senator. “That’s what I need to do,” I thought. I need to tend to my relationships. I thought about those that I regarded myself as being rather passive with. I thought of people that I cared for but haven’t made time for. I thought of family, including my niece and nephew, my brother, I thought of my mom. I thought of how short and precious life is and how I will have regrets when it comes to her, God knows I did with my dad. I then began to think of the renewed friendships I’ve made this year through that crazy facebook. I tried, somehow in my mind, to think that just posting a comment on their page would suffice. I began to realize how I was starting to cheapen the whole friendship thing with facebook. Is that what Teddy did? Did he consider posting something on someone’s facebook as tending to relationships? I don’t know fully but I have this feeling he was somewhat of a purist, somewhat like me, wanting to do the right thing, wanting to actually have a part of his friends, wanting to give a part of himself to his friends. I call that making your life beautiful and rich. Do you think his encounters involved a meal, a bottle of wine or two, some music and great unforgettable conversations? Was it at his home or was it at a local restaurant? I would think it would be anywhere he would like as with his means, he had all the options in the world. Does it matter where, or how long? I think it matters most that he did it and he was remembered for it.
And so, here I am, at the close of a really wonderful year, a year with ups and downs, like everyone else. Out of the top 5 priorities I have listed for this year, Tending to My Relationships tops the list. Stay tuned to find out how I intend on breaking that down so that I do not get overwhelmed but find a place that I am satisfied with.
Happy New Year!