By Yvonne Blackwood~
Have you ever wondered what became of some of your friends and associates over the past years? You Know—the ones who just dropped out of sight and out of your life? Or how about the ones who used to be such great friends? You talked on the phone regularly, you visited each other, and whenever you entertained they were always there, then one day—nothing. You don’t call; they don’t call. You just don’t communicate anymore. I found an interesting way of remembering old friends. It took me by surprise when I discovered what you can learn from old Christmas cards.
I’m a hoarder; or to put it in a more sophisticated way, I’m sentimental. Over the past twenty years I’ve saved all the Christmas cards I have received, and believe me, they are many.
As Christmas day 2016 approaches with the sound of carols on the radio and decorations in the malls, I’m in a reminiscing mood. I decided to peek into my stash of old Christmas cards. I tug at the bottom drawer of my armoire; it’s stuffed to the brim and won’t budge. With one titanic yank it snaps open throwing me flat on my derriere. There, lying in neat stacks, tied with red ribbons or held together with rubber bands are piles and plies of old Christmas cards. Each pile represents a year. Some stacks are larger than others—the years when I’m remembered more I suppose. The largest card for each year forms a protective cover for the cards of that year. Plopping down on the floor, I retrieve a few stacks, and untie the ribbons . . .
1996: Wow! this is a fat pile. As I flip through the cards, I remember that I had a lot of Italian clients that year. Many of them not only sent me cards, they sent fabulous gift baskets! Here’s a card from the Member of Parliament for my area with a picture of his entire family, including the dog. Over the past several years, this minister’s card is always the first one to arrive at my house. I’ve watched his children grow up via his Christmas cards.
1997: A green card with a wreath in the centre, is signed, Lisa and Lori. They wrote, “Thanks a million.” Now what the heck did I do? Who are Lisa and Lori anyway? Another thing I’ve learned from the cards—my memory is not as good as it used to be.
1998: There is a card with a cute little black angel; it’s from Diane. We use to call each other regularly, but I haven’t spoken to her for many years. The Member of Parliament’s card has the family’s photo as usual. My goodness! The dog is missing. He was always there—white and hairy dog with big black eyes. He must have died. There’s one from the Browns; they retired and moved back to Jamaica.
Before I know it an hour has gone by, but it’s too fascinating to stop now.
2004: I am thrilled that I am not the only one with memory issues—one of my friends from high school has sent me a card every year; this year she has sent me two different cards with the same inscription!
2008: This stack is the skinniest so far, and several cards are from my former clients—they must miss me! I retired the previous year.
2009: Among the pile is a small card with a quote from Psalm 148:1. The card is from my Chinese colleague; she had just converted from Buddhism to Christianity. I guess this is the first time she has sent Christmas cards.
2010: More than a half of my cards are not from my old friends, but from my church family. Having retired three years earlier I had begun to attended church regularly.
2011: There is a unique round card in the shape of a Christmas ball with a black background and covered with gold leaves. It’s from a dental office and it warms my heart to know that I was instrumental in assisting the young dentist to set up her practice; she is the daughter of one of my high school classmates.
2012: Several of the cards are from members of a board on which I sit.
2013: Among the cards is a simple one with a picture of Santa; it’s from the Red Cross. It was the first time I had received such a card. A pasted note inside states that a friend had made a donation in my name for the relief support of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
2015: The pile this year is the largest for the past ten years. All my old friends who usually send cards, did so this year, but in addition, more folks from my church also sent me cards. I suppose more of them are getting to know me.
I’ve been reading some of the wonderful words of good wishes in the cards. Some are very apropos, obviously carefully chosen by my friends, clients and associates. There must be dozens of stories to be told about all the people who have sent me Christmas cards over the last two decades, stories about births and deaths, weddings and first grand children, graduations of children from university, divorce, sadness, joy and so many other emotions. If only I could look through the cards like a crystal ball and watch the stories unfold—a movie could not be better. As I read the cards, I think, what a wonderful way to walk down memory lane!
Finally, I spot a white card with a golden dove. It says “Peace on Earth.” It’s from my father. Inside there is a quote from Isaiah 55:12, “For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace . . . ”
Best wishes to all the readers during the Christmas holidays. Let us continue to pray for “Peace on Earth.”