Let’s all take pity on mail carriers this week. Their feet will be freezing in the snow and their fingers will be nipped by cold. This week may be their busiest of the year. They will be swamped, so I raise the question how many Christmas cards are you sending this year? More? Or less? If trends are true, you are sending fewer cards. The same is true if turned around. How many Christmas cards are you receiving this year? Less than usual?
It is a strange phenomenon. Is it because we don’t want to spend 47 cents for a stamp? Or are we too occupied to look up addresses and write-by-hand the name of the recipient on an envelope.
AT OUR HOUSE, it is a burst of joy when we shuffle through the mail and find an envelope that is hand-addressed. We set aside the bills and catalogs to grab for colorful envelopes with hand-written names. They show that here is someone who cares to personally greet us for the holidays. They are not emailing or texting. To see our names written on an envelope is the real thing. It is a pleasure to realize that someone put their hand on that card and with their own pen wrote- our names on the envelope.
I think of a glittery card just received from a widow. She hand-writes a blessing inside, and of course the card is hand-addressed. We think of her, and the Christmas tree — with vintage ornaments — that she sets up in the foyer of her home.
I CONNECT with Randy Wayne White when I get a holiday card — hand-written envelope — and inside the signature from this mystery author who graduated from Davenport Central High and regularly lands on the New York Times best-seller list. I can visualize him with his wife, Wendy, in the warm sunshine of their Sanibel Island, Florida, home. A card like this cannot compare with an impersonal text or email. I will save that card.
It all reminds of Marian Postel Scott, a former Davenporter who lives in San Antonio, Texas. She regularly writes me (in longhand) messages: “I feel very sad when I watch people writing with their devices. How many messages will they be able to read 50 years from now?”
When Jesus’ light went out
Every holiday season, I think of the story of Mark Peterson and the Christmas play. Peterson was director of the Mississippi Valley Youth for Christ. To show the radiance of the newborn savior, an electric light bulb was hidden in the manger. All the stage lights were darkened so the brightness of the manger could be seen, but the boy who controlled the lights was confused and pulled the wrong plug.
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It was a tense moment until one of the shepherds loudly spoke up for the audience to hear: “Hey, someone switched off Jesus.” Peterson says it broke up the audience.
When Santa stomped on the porch
No matter our age, the childhood memories are everlasting. The parlor, with its Christmas tree by the big bay window, was sealed for a week by high pocket doors. Breathlessly we awaited Santa; only Santa could open those doors. We never saw Santa, but we heard him. He arrived and left on the front porch, and as he left there would be loud stomping footsteps. “Goodbye, Ruth and Helen and little Billy. Goodbye. See you next year.” We knew it had been Santa. Only Santa could make such heavy footsteps.