I love Christmas cards. I always have. I know that must surprise most of you, given my historical disdain for the "commercialism" of this holiday. However, I do really like Christmas cards. When I was significantly younger and living off on my own in college and/or Optometry school I would spend a considerable amount of time at the Hallmark store looking for that "just-right" card. You know the one? It's got that funny front and then when you open it up "BAM" an even funnier punch line? Yep, those are the ones that I used to scour the aisles looking for. Then I would spend countless hours (usually when I was supposed to be studying for finals) handwriting notes to my dearest and closest friends. Many of you may have received one of those several decades ago, and you're welcome, by the way!
I guess it was just my little way of keeping in touch with all the people that had touched me over the years. It gave me just a few minutes, once a year, to reflect on the friendships that I had managed to acquire along the different phases of my life. It was a great exercise for me to acknowledge how deeply I cared, and how thankful I was, for the impact each and every one of those people had had on my life.
Fast-forward to the era of AK (after kids). Now during my 40+ years on this earth, I have amassed a large number of dear friends that mean the world to me. I have also amassed the seemingly never-ending needs of two small little children that require their mother to be present--both mentally and physically. So, the time of handwriting notes quickly diminished, giving way to the juggernaut that is the mass-produced photographic Christmas card.
I have heard a lot of people mock these photo cards as impersonal, or even cheesy. I respectfully disagree with both of those opinions. I really enjoy seeing photos of all of my friends and their kids. It is awesome to see that most of them turned out relatively normal after all. Not to mention the warm and fuzzy feeling I get inside when I realize that they are knee-deep in, as we say in Texas, "payin' for their raisin'".
Several years ago, I was perplexed as to what to do with all the Christmas cards I received every year. I loved looking at the pictures, reading the occasional "annual update" that accompanied them, and reflecting on the relationship represented. So, I decided I needed to display them somehow. I figured out that I could hang wide, wired Christmas ribbon from the threshold frame that separated my living room from the kitchen. It is a really wide opening with ample room to hang such a display. Then, as cards would arrive during the month of December, I would simply hang them on the ribbon.
For the entire month of December every year since, I have been able to walk through this opening, glancing across the sea of aging faces and be reminded of all of the amazing people that have crossed my path over the years. With the combination of mine and Dave's friends it has become quite a display. I have never met many of Dave's friends, yet every year the arrival of their Christmas card prompts him to tell me some funny story about college. Dave has never met a lot of my friends, but he could probably tell you their names, if shown their faces, along with one humorous (and likely, questionably illegal) thing that they had done in their youth.
So, I hope you enjoy the Christmas cards that you receive every year. I hope you realize that someone (and probably lots of someones) cared enough about you to go to the expense and effort to drop you a simple card to wish you a "Merry Christmas", "Happy Holiday", "Happy Hanukkah", or "happy whatever" this time of year.
I hope you have a wonderful memory-lane-filled December of Christmas cards.
And Merry Christmas from the Anderson Clan!