It’s that time of year, a time when I aspire to share a greeting with everyone in my heart. The perfectionist in me declares this should include a summary of the past year (or more if I didn’t get cards out the year before…or the year before that), a picture of my family (of course, dated and labeled with names and ages of each person), and a Christmas card that fits the person I’m sending it to in some way (or at least myself or our relationship).
I imagine a snowy, quiet day in which I would carefully select the fountain pen from my collection that has just the right nib size, barrel thickness, and color to fit my mood and size of my handwriting needed for the card. I’d choose cardinal red, gemstone green, or perhaps cocoa for ink, and let my heart-felt words of thankfulness for our friendship and best wishes for the coming year flow onto the page while my favorite Christmas music played in the background and a peppermint candle flickered. I could happily pass a day – or more – in such occupation, and there were days in the past when I did just that.
Today was a day with the perfect, gently falling snow. A peaceful Saturday. A day with no outside obligations. Perhaps I could…
But, it was also a normal day with my sweet Four, the five-year-old singing loudly and dancing haphazardly, the toddler crying (for milk, for help opening the baby gate, for justice when big sisters are mean…), the three-year-old unable to nap and needing help with every single paint jar lid when the rest of the house was quiet, and the baby apparently not being satisfied to play alone on the floor nearby.
A couple of years ago, I would have probably felt frustration and loss, perhaps even a sense of being cheated out of something that I delight in. Today, I knew it was important for me to share some of my words with a few beloved family members that were on my heart. I hoped to finish six cards (instead of the close to one hundred I’d love to prepare and send) – without the year’s summary or thoughtfully selected card. I traded the bliss of my fountain pens for a ballpoint to avoid the fear of an accidental spill and to save the time I’d spend deliberating on a choice.
I finished only two, but didn’t feel cheated. I think that’s two more than last year. And, there’s tomorrow to try for another one or two… Right?
As I remember Christmas seasons past, my heart fills with joy in reliving days with such special people – family, school mates, college friends, roommates, lab mates, church friends, band friends, and new friends. I long to share with them how I treasure our time together and how dear they still are to me, despite the distance of geography and time. I sincerely hope I’ll be intentional and focused enough to send some words to many, even if it’s after Christmas.
But, today, I was telling dear ones how much they are loved. I did so as I read Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs for the third time. I did so as I admired her painting and served hot chocolate with whipped cream to my sweet, quiet three-year-old daughter while the other three slept. I snuggled the thumb-sucking, blond-haired two-year-old after her nap. I rocked my baby, singing Christmas carols to lull him to sleep. I washed laundry, cleaned dishes, cooked a meal, and watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas” with my kids, all things that I didn’t do when I had the time to spend all day with a stack of beautiful cards and my fountain pen.
So, for those of you who are dear to me (I hope you know who you are.), please be patient. This season of life is demanding and hard and RICH. Please don’t take my negligence as a personal slight. As I hear at the grocery store (whether with two kids or with four) on nearly every outing, I’ve got my hands full, and I haven’t yet learned to write with my toes.
And, if someday in the future, you receive a card like I imagine sending, please give me a call, because though I may be delighting in the writing I couldn’t do when the children were small, it will mean that they’re not small anymore, and I, well, I just have a feeling that I’ll be missing these days of slobbery kisses, a full lap, and perhaps even the loud chaos and sticky messes, and I’ll need a hug.