Every year I get more reluctant to write the cards. It’s not a lot of work. The addresses are on labels. It’s a matter of signing and slapping on labels and stamps.
When I was younger I embraced the whole tradition. Cards were carefully selected. Sometimes I would write a Christmas missive. It wasn’t one of those braggy ones — just fun stories or upbeat anecdotes.
Every year a few people drop off the list. A decade ago it didn’t matter. People move on. We’re no longer close. It’s all ok.
Now if I don’t hear back I wonder if something happened to them. A death? Dementia? Nursing home? (I never thought about these things when I was young!)
One year I sent a card to my BFF from high school and never got one back. We had been exchanging cards since high school. She lived in Florida so I saw her once a decade or so. I wasn’t worried. Life gets busy. This was before Facebook, emails and cellphones. (Really that wasn’t all that long ago!)
Her birthday is in March and I thought about giving her a call. The week before her birthday her obituary appeared in our local paper. She had family up here. From reading the on-line condolences I learned that she had been fighting some form of cancer for the last year and it sounded like she had been very ill.
I hope my last card made it to her and made her smile. I wished I had written a note to tell her how important her friendship had been to me.
I have two much older friends, both would be 80 or older. I haven’t received a card from either one in several years. I wonder if something happened. The good news is that a google search did not find an obituary.
A former co-worker from the 1970s didn’t send a card last Christmas but we have mutual friends. I found out that his wife has dementia and he had to move her to a care unit.
Fortunately I have an email address and will continue to send cards and communicate.
A return card isn’t the issue. It’s not knowing what happened to someone who was once a part of my life. The holidays shouldn’t be the time to hear the bad news.
PS: Yes, I know calling them Christmas cards is not politically correct but it is what it is. I try to send my non-Christian friends the snowmen and pastoral versions. This year’s timing of Hanukkah and Christmas meant that my Jewish friends received their “holiday” card after their holiday. It’s the thought folks!