One of my favorite things about the Christmas season is getting holiday cards in the mail. I mean, I love getting mail in general. Other than bills. No one likes those. But around the holidays the mailbox is just full of happy little surprises.
And me, I keep those cards. I don’t display them for a few short weeks and toss them when I take down the Christmas tree. I slip them into an album with a date stamp and pack it up with with the rest of our holiday decorations so that we can continue to enjoy them alongside the twinkle lights and stockings year after year.
I have done this since we sent out our first Christmas cards as a married couple eight years ago, cherished and stored away the handful of cards that we received from friends and family. And the marked difference between the first set of cards and the most recent is that very few of them nowadays have any hand written sentiments on them. Most are pre-printed with their sentiments and I get that because I do it that way too, because the holidays are hectic and who has time to put pen to paper?
And I love receiving the cards regardless. I love seeing my friend’s families expand over the years and championing their achievements as noted in their Christmas letter. My friend Traci writes a killer Christmas letter that I wait in eager anticipation for each year. I love seeing all of the people that I love every day as I pass the front hall.
But the card that meant the most to me last year was from my great-aunt Pat, who wrote in cursive script about me and about memories from our family gatherings in the past and about how much she loved seeing my daughter grow up. I was so touched by her words and that she took the time to speak love into my life.
Because “gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” (Proverbs 16:24)
I pinned it to the cork board above my desk.
After my grandmother passed away I inherited a portion of her large collection of books. Sometimes I’ll open one and trace my fingers over her name where she wrote it just inside the front cover. I don’t know what it is about a simple marking that evokes such strong emotions but seeing it written there in her hand, the same name that I gave my daughter, it makes me feel connected to her.
So this year I decided to honor that feeling and to handwrite a personal message onto each one of the holiday cards that I send out. This was kind of a lofty undertaking on account of how my Christmas card list has grown quite a bit since that first year I sent out a card. I may or may not have been having a theological debate with myself about whether or not it was the Lord’s will for me to indulge in a hand massage afterwards.
But I read Speak Love by Annie Downs this year and have really been working towards intentionally speaking love into the lives of the people around me.
And the days leading up to Christmas, the ones where we are remembering the people we love as we reflect on the Advent, those days are such a great time to do just that.
(Especially if you are like me and it doesn’t exactly come to easy to you. There is a reason I’m a writer, y’all. My words fit well on paper and somehow get all awkward when I try to say them out loud.)
And I know that no one wants to add another thing their plate this holiday season (unless that thing is gingerbread, in which case please add all the gingerbread things to my plate) but I would ask you to consider setting aside some time to further bless the people you love in writing.
It doesn’t have to be on holiday cards, but a quick note slipped in the mail might travel much farther than the postage destination.
Because “a word in season, how good it is!” (Proverbs 15:23)
And because one day they might trace their fingers over the ink.