Saturday, December 6, 2008

With Every Christmas Card I Write

As the calendar pages turn and the years go by, it seems some long held traditions are increasingly susceptible to evaporation. Women in white gloves at Sunday services, men in dress hats and overcoats nodding to one another along busy weekday sidewalks, the far off sound of mother’s voices heard through neighborhood streets as they call their children home from outdoor play at suppertime, always adding a few more syllables than the name actually possesses. Once commonplace, I fear these sights and sounds are long gone now. One can look for them only in books, on film and in the halls of memory. Here in my own little world, I do try to keep alive meaningful customs and traditions that I sometimes fear are perilously close to the endangered list, and I think my life the richer for the effort. I still hand write thank you notes, still keep fresh flowers in my rooms, I do RSVP and I do not wear white at weddings, or after Labor Day. I take a gift when I’m invited to dinner, I attend funerals, dine by candlelight, I still even iron my sheets, God help me. And, I still send Christmas cards. In fact, one of the most delightful aspects of the entire festive season is, for me, the Christmas card. In a special wooden box, I have kept every card the Songwriter and I have sent out during the many years of our marriage. Each Christmas, as I add another, I take out all those from years past and enjoy them once more, each one reminding me of who we were then.

The hunt for the perfect card begins in the summer. For a few years in a row I had the luxury of being in Britain during the fall season when the shops were already stocked for the holidays. What bliss! No one does Christmas like the British. For three years straight, I found the perfect card there. Then the next year, naturally, I was spoiled. No card I found even approached the bar set so high by those wonderful elves in the UK. So, I decided to create my own. And lo, another tradition was born. Now it seems, everyone expects an original Christmas card from me each season and the ritual has become much more involved. But, how I do love it. With mellow strains of Perry Como, Vivaldi and Nat King Cole playing through the house, hot tea at my elbow, furry dogs under tables that are spread with papers, inks, glitters, stamps, envelopes, embossing tools...I am in complete holiday heaven. Thinking of each person as I write their name on their envelope, I am silently thankful for their friendship and wishing them well for the coming year. Yes, it is time consuming. Yes, it costs some money. But, oh is it worth it. This year I am happy to report that I am on schedule and I’ll soon be dreaming of a White Christmas once again. With every Christmas Card I write!

Above picture is my Christmas Card from 1990