For the last five or six years, I have organized a Christmas card swap for a group of Christmas light hobbyists of which I am a part. Just like many of the tasks of the season, setting up the swap had become just another thing to check off the list. It meant finding some okay cards to buy, addressing and signing them, as many as 55 cards in a year. The basics of the swap are that every participant receives ten people to send cards to. Some people ask for more than ten, up to the whole list. I also send cards to everyone on the list, feeling obliged to do so, since I had put it all together.
This year it started out the same way, even to the extent that I had asked my wife to pick up some cards for me while she was out. I let the days get away from me and finally realized that I needed to get the cards done if they were going to be delivered before Christmas. I sat down and opened the cards, just to realize that though they were Christmas themed on the front, they were blank inside. This was going to require more time. I realized that I had gotten into the habit of assembly lining through the cards and envelopes to the point where there wasn’t any thought or emotional effort put into them. In past years, I have even printed the envelopes to save time.
As I started to sign the first card, I realized that I could put a little thought into this, and write something more than ‘Merry Christmas!’ I paused to look at my list of names. A few of the people on it, I have met in person. Many I have engaged with online to varying degrees over the years. A few I know nothing about, other than that they like Christmas lighting enough to join our forum. I began to reflect on the past year, with its struggles, division and disease, and realized that some encouragement and legitimate well-wishing were in order.
I began to write out the first card, encouraging its recipient to focus on the true joy of the Christmas season and to allow that joy to carry with them into the new year. As I continued, the writing came more quickly. Wishes focused on comfort, joy and peace flowed more easily as I progressed through the pile of cards. I laughed at one point, thinking that I may have missed my calling as a greeting card author.
I realized while writing the cards that the sentiment I was pouring into them was heartfelt. I had an epiphany that, as I was writing out the cards to encourage my friends, I was being encouraged and reminded that I needed to slow down and enjoy the season myself. Time continues to fly by, and it’s easy to go into autopilot, especially during this hectic season.
My wish for you is that you can slow down this season, find comfort in tradition, joy in discovery, and hope for the future, as you take the time to celebrate the meaning of Christmas.