I recently sat down to address envelopes for the annual family Christmas cards, and it occurred to me how rarely I set upon such a task nowadays. Obviously, people are not sending cards or other personal mail as much as they used to. How exciting it is in our current age to find a piece of mail with one's name handwritten on the front, and a colorful personal return address sticker in the corner? It’s almost like stumbling upon hidden treasure!
Electronic communication makes keeping in touch so much easier, which is beneficial from a practical standpoint, But when it comes to important personal relationships, it makes our interactions almost TOO easy. We can casually and effortlessly dash off whatever idea flashes through our mind, with little time spent crafting the message and little consideration of whether the idea is worthwhile and beneficial to share. And in a public forum like social media, the same posts are broadcast to elderly aunts, old school mates, coworkers, and a variety of accumulated casual acquaintances. They are fashioned to suit the preferences of the poster, rather than being thoughtfully tailored for the recipient.
By contrast, while writing a short greeting in each card, I am inspired to spend a few moments thinking about each particular person or family, and reflecting on my relationship with them and the important events that have taken place in their lives in the past year. Are they celebrating successes, struggling, or mourning? Have I been present to share these experiences with them? How seldom I stop to focus on the people who are important to me, and really appreciate the blessing that each one is to my life!
Flipping through the address book (I like to keep a hard copy) is also occasion to reflect on the people who are not in my life anymore. Some have fallen away as the current of life draws us in different directions. Even more sad are the entries for those with whom I have experienced a rift, or others who have passed on. The annual ritual of sending Christmas cards is a tangible marker of how relationships change as calendar pages turn.
Considering each loved one with regards to the season compels even deeper regard. I feel a twinge of discomfort sending an explicitly Christian card to some, uncertain whether they know Christ, or imagining they will be indifferent to or even annoyed by the Bible verse on the card. Some people on my list, I expect to have continued fellowship in eternity. For others, I resolve to pray more fervently for their salvation. Considering birth of the Saviour while straightening the stack of written greetings to the most important people in my life makes me keenly aware of my bountiful blessings of special people and relationships.
The Carolina Contrarian, Anne Wilson Smith, is the author of Charlottesville Untold: Inside Unite the Right and Robert E. Lee: A History Book for Kids. She is the creator of Reckonin' and has contributed to the Abbeville Institute website and Vdare. She is a soft-spoken Southern belle by day, opinionated writer by night. She loves Jesus, her family, and her hometown. She enjoys floral dresses and acoustic guitar music. You may contact Carolina Contrarian at CarolinaContrarian@protonmail.com.