A couple of nights ago I went to our Elks Lodge annual Christmas dinner. As I’ve only recently become an Elk, this was my first one. It was great! A pot luck. (Who does those anymore?)
A couple of people brought guitars and after dinner we sang Christmas carols. (Who does that anymore?) There were no song sheets and we had to remember the words. Everyone knew the first verse – after that we had to fake it.
It got me to thinking – when was the last time I sang Christmas carols? Maybe at a Christmas service we attended a year or two ago. And I can remember caroling with a group of campers from all over the US and Canada, singing and walking up and down the roadways of an RV park in Palm Springs. There was also the time with friends and family, carrying candles, through a starry-skied snow-blanketed neighborhood in a small town in northern BC. Wow, those last two memories had to be from over 10 years ago. I remember our kids were so small. They were mesmerized by the candles and delighted at the faces that appeared in the windows and thrilled by all the people who came out to wish us well and give us seasonal goodies – cookies and other lovingly home-baked treats.
Christmas also used to be a time for sending Christmas cards. And getting them.
When I was just a kid, our house had a mail slot that was way up high in the front door. It was just under a little metal door that you could open and peer out to see who was standing on the front steps. I wasn’t nearly tall enough to look out of it – unless I dragged one of the kitchen chairs over to stand on. I’d wait for the mailman to bring the mail (Do they do that anymore?) and push it through the little slot in the door. The letters would come showering down on me. It was so exciting over the Christmas season. So many cards. So many envelopes in all kinds of shapes and colors, decorated with Christmasy stamps and addressed in different styles of handwriting. And I’d get to open them.
I can barely remember the last time we received a Christmas card. (Who sends those anymore?) In the past we would string them up as decorations, hanging from the tops of the windows in the house where I grew up. Hanging from the mantle in our more recent homes.
We were putting up Christmas decorations a few years ago. I was tying the string from one side of the fireplace mantle to the other. Since cards had become, well, scarce in recent times, we saved them from previous years so we had enough to string across the fireplace.
As my daughter put up the cards, I sighed and remarked, “No one sends Christmas cards anymore…”
“…except for Jim and Dorothy.” she finished.
Ah, yes. Jim and Dorothy – friends that we haven’t seen for a long time. Long after everyone else had stopped sending them, Jim and Dorothy’s Christmas card would show up in our mailbox. Without fail. A tangible reminder that they were still there, in Montana now, remembering us from far away.
It’s been a year or two since we got their last card. I wonder if Hallmark has stopped printing them? Maybe Montana has shut down its postal service? Or is it that I haven’t sent them a card for years. Or e-mailed. Or called.
Can’t they just look me up on Facebook?
Caroling. Christmas cards. There are so many seasonal traditions that have just gone by the wayside as life has gotten busier. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just that….
I think I’ll go out tomorrow and see if you can still get Christmas cards. I think there may be just enough time to get them in the mail.
Oh. And Merry Christmas!
* * *
A week has gone by. I went out and bought some cards. Yes, you can still get Christmas cards, but you really have to look if you want to have the word “Christmas” actually appear in the message.
I wrote some personal notes, added doodles and pictures (great fun – pen-on-paper creativity) and mailed them off. Then, as if by magic, a bunch of Christmas cards appeared in my mailbox.
Funny how that works.