We still send out Christmas cards the old-fashioned, analog, low-tech, snail-mail way at my house. And we have an old, well-worn address book that gets hauled out each year for the chore of addressing the envelopes. Sometimes we talk about going to a computerized list of friends and relatives – one that would enable us to print out mailing labels. But I just can’t do it.
The main reason I can’t do it is that it would seem like, in a small way, an abandonment of so many of my loved ones, some of whom still speak to me.
There are a lot of names in that address book that we don’t send cards to anymore: relatives, some very close and some not so much; neighbors from the not-too-distant past; reliable pals of the irreplaceable, intimate sort.
They all have, to use the euphemism, “moved on.” They left no forwarding address. But we refuse to scratch out their entries from the old address book. Instead, as we turn each page, we get to see them there. It’s as much a part of Christmas for us as decorating and gift giving. In the middle of the sometimes frantic holiday season, their names are brought to mind along with their memories. They have a message for us: slow down and remember what’s important - life, love and the present moment.
Loss can feel deeper during the holidays. Maybe you know someone, maybe you are someone who must deal with a special kind of sadness at this special time of year. Small kindnesses for families that are coping with grief through this merry season can be much appreciated.
We can still receive small kindnesses from those who are no longer with us, in fact. In the form of memories and in the faintly whispered words: “slow down.”
Especially if we have an old address book.