Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Letters

I'm doing the final editing on my Christmas letter today. I've written one for the past ten years. It is my way of bringing friends and family up-to-date with us, including a family picture or two to let all see how we're aging, and it prevents me from suffering carpal tunnel by writing the same letter dozens of times as I used to do.
I enjoy this process. I have only one page on which to include the family photo we take each Thanksgiving Day (and any others I feel are of interest), to try and recall the special events of the past year that are worth relating, and to do this in a way that makes it fun and inviting to read.
I receive quite a few of such letters from other friends; I enjoy them all. Some are better written than others, some are monuments to computer program layouts with their artwork, pictures and varied fonts, but all are read with relish. I keep them and re-read each one several times, immersed in the happenings and important details of the lives of friends seldom seen.
They are even more important to me these days because they represent a social connection that seems to be waning, sad to say. Our culture appears to be in too much of a hurry, or too involved in their own existence to give any thought to others. Or maybe we've just evolved to a populace who believe that social courtesy is just not important any more. I've certainly had examples of that more often than I care to detail.
I would take issue with anyone who feels that showing regard and being polite is no longer expected, just as I take issue with those who make fun of people who write Christmas letters. In a world where human communication in written form is disappearing, I feel we should cherish any attempt to share treasured life moments with people we care about.
I long for the days when written letters, notes and cards from friends and family appeared in my mailbox on a regular basis. I settle now for this yearly exercise in which we catch up on each other's events in a way that says something about our need to keep that connection. So, I will open my mailbox each day with the hope that one of the envelopes I find there will contain news from someone whose embrace I cannot share, but who cares enough about me to still include me in their lives. And I hope my Christmas letter to them will convey that feeling, too.

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