I’ve written Christmas cards this week and I find it a difficult task at the best of times. There’s all that writing with a pen for one thing. My handwriting is usually not too bad, but by the time I’ve finished with them, it has either improved greatly or, more often, turned into an impossible to decipher scrawl as my hand muscles all but seize up!
Then there’s the posting dates – the few overseas cards I send fox me every year and I always seem to miss the earliest zones like Australia and USA – and of course there’s always someone who moves house but doesn’t feel the need to communicate their new address on the grounds that people can just call/email if they want to get in touch… That just gives me another deadline to meet – to get hold of them and obtain their address before I have to post their card!!
Nor do I ever seem organised enough these days to write my cards early enough to think about including a long newsletter to enclose with them, though I have mixed feelings about such things anyway. Don’t get me wrong. I love to receive a Christmas newsletter myself and I read all my friends and family’s news hungrily, marvelling at their ever-increasing creativity with photos or illustrations. Once, I was a great letter writer, however time is the enemy these days and I can’t help feeling that I would rather write something more personal to the recipient or not at all… Invariably, time doesn’t permit more than a few words though, so maybe I’m missing an opportunity to share milestone events with those I love.
I don’t have a huge long list, just the usual. There’s my immediate family of course. Then more distant family members and friends of family who came to my wedding. I’m also fortunate enough to have half a dozen or so old friends from school and university who are still a part of our lives. Then there are a few good neighbours and friends we’ve made more recently.
It is the cards to the old friends that are the most important to me though. I feel my family know I am thinking of them and know I am there for them. We’re family. Enough said. Newer friends are still in the delightful stages of “getting to know you”, they are receiving my time and effort on a daily basis so I hope to see them to hand them a card or simply raise a toast to the season, be it with a hug, a cuppa or a glass of wine.
It’s those close friendships I made long ago from whom life and circumstance have distanced me in recent years that make me come over all sentimental at this time of year. As I write their cards, I know this is a key opportunity to let them know that despite time and distance, I still think of them, miss them, and wish the best for them at this special time of year. Perhaps you think that’s too much pressure for a small printed card? I made my own one year – did they say more do you think?
Anyway, I usually come over all reflective – you know, on how much life and circumstance is really to blame and how much is down to me not making enough time for them in my life. I invariably find myself guilty. Perhaps I could have called more frequently to find out how they are, should have pressed harder to arrange that get together we promised, made more of an effort to travel their way and pop in for a visit or should have just been a better friend when we did get together briefly and asked them more about themselves and told them less about me and mine. Yes, I can talk as well as write about myself!
So it is for their cards I look each year on my doorstep. Will this be the year my oldest and dearest finally stop wasting a stamp on me or are they, like me, indulging in happy memories and berating themselves as they write mine? Only the receipt of a Christmas card sending me the compliments of the season bearing their names will let me off the hook.
As I wrote each card to them this week, my heart was filled with happy memories. It was with these friends that I spent a large part of my youthful leisure time. We watched films, shopped, ate out, planned and went on holidays or days out together. With them I whiled away long, lazy summer afternoons, talking about everything while enjoying the silences. We never missed an opportunity to celebrate a birthday, Christmas or New Year with each other back then. They were the friends who rallied round when my heart was broken, even though the offending chaps were their friends too. They were the friends I wanted to share my successes with and on whom I wanted to heap glory for their own. They picked me up when I fell down. You know, the important stuff.
Some of my oldest and dearest friends married each other and stayed relatively nearby. The rest of us have since all found our special someone and were all at each other’s weddings, as much a part of the celebrations as our own families. We have all followed our hearts and our partners and it is this physical distance, combined with busy careers and now children, that I can’t help resenting a little for keeping us from spending precious time together.
Some might say I should move on, that I’m being too hard on myself, people come and go from our lives, we make new friends. I have made new friends and some I mean to keep just as long as those I already have. I just hope these precious few I never want to lose appreciate that despite our mutual and increasing barriers to success.
So as I address their cards this year, as I have done every year since they became my friends, I am remembering the good times we shared and being thankful for those few short hours I have been fortunate enough to share with them this last year. I am thinking fondly of all my friends and family, old and new and wondering what they are up to, if they are well. But I guess I’m just saying that it is especially the case for those closest to and yet somehow furthest from my heart, as I resolve to try and be a better friend to each of them, despite the ever-increasing constraints of time and distance, in the coming year.
So as I send you my compliments of the season, not in a card but via this post, I ask you to tell me what the sending and receiving of Christmas cards mean to you?
Mayfair Mum x
© Mayfair Mum, 2011