A Friday ritual.
A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
As a kid, when the Christmas letters and pictures of people I didn’t ever remember meeting would show up in the mail it was intriguing. They’d spark stories from my parents of things that had happened before we existed. A first fascinating glimpse as a child of “Oh!- My parents were people before they were parents?!?” Inevitably, the stories would contain information about how they last saw me when I was “…this big…” that, as I got older, likely caused a bit of eye rolling, but I was hooked. I loved the Christmas cards.
As an adult I continued to love getting Christmas cards, letters and photos, but for a long time I never sent one. First, I thought I didn’t have anything to write about (that wasn’t true). Then, I thought that I didn’t know how to write one (but I do have this blog…). And then, just a few years ago, out of excuses and worried that if I didn’t start sending out letters of my own I’d lose my own influx of pre-children memories, I wrote one.
It did not turn out like other peoples letters, but it was a lot of fun.
I’m still writing Christmas letters, and they still aren’t normal (the choose your own adventure one is still the favorite), and I still love sending them, and I still love receiving replies….
I get many cards and letters and they are all beautiful. Envelopes with lovely handwritten addresses, cute christmas return labels, christmas stamps and even an extra sticker on the back. I open them to find gorgeous cards, family photos and letters printed on festive holiday paper.
My cards are not like that.
I have terrible handwriting. Some say it would get better with practice, I would point them to my penmanship grades in school and disagree. I have handwriting so bad it’s not uncommon for me to not be able to read my own lists. Of course, I can do better than my list jotting down skills. But it’s slow and hard and still, well, messy. I’m certain that any time I even think of handwriting the hundred plus addresses on our Christmas cards my mailman gets the shivers. It’s not a good plan. So I have gone the technological route. An excel spread sheet. Mail merge. And
just like that, with a few false starts, a ream of paper and a package of label sheets later, I’ve got my address labels.
Then comes one of my favorite parts, sticking them on the envelopes. A little Christmas music in the background and peel and stick, peel and stick. Mulling over friends’ and families’ names as they pass by, eating an occasionally cookie – and wondering why on earth I have no rhyme or reason to my spreadsheet addresses!
I have Mr John Smith’s and I have John Smiths.
I have John & Jane Smith and one John/Jane Smith/Doe.
Some long term boyfriends have made the cut while spouses have been left off completely.
And if you kept your maiden name – likely I’ve ignored that too.
I even have a few names forlornly floating in their label on their own, no address to be found.
But it’s funny, once those odd labels are stuck on and I move on to tracking down missing addresses, affixing return address labels and stamps, stuffing letters and adding a note here or there, how it no longer seems important.
I’m too caught up in the fun of sending out mail and details like that have never bothered me anyway. If you receive a letter from me perhaps it’ll be all typed up- like a business sent it. Perhaps you’ve moved and you’ll get my attempt at legible handwriting. Perhaps your return address label will have a pheasant on it – or maybe a christmas tree. The stamp could have a snowman or a flag- it’s really hard to say. The letter printed on plain, white paper, will, no doubt, be folded crooked. I might have handwritten an extra note – maybe you’ll be able to read it… probably not. And I hope your name will be on it – but there is a good chance it isn’t.
Yes, my christmas letters have a presentation problem, but I’m having too much fun to fix it!
Its the annual baking of The Christmas Cookies!
For the whole tradition, tiny Ivy and Clara pictures and more of my family history than you’d ever need to know read The Christmas Cookies!
I’d hate to be accused of being one of those people who runs themselves ragged during the holiday season, spending so much time preparing to have fun that they never relax and actually have fun. Luckily for me and my fun-loving self, I happen to be extraordinarily good at avoiding all my responsibilities for an hour or so at a time. I’m virtually an expert at sitting down in front of the fire with the cats and the dogs to read a bit of a book and let the stress of the day pass me by.
But it is the holidays, and I do have a million things to do and all kinds of fun I’d like to have, so I am a little bit choosy about the kind of book I’ll pick up. Now is not the time to finally read Middlemarch. I’m not even going to consider reading the second Stormlight Archive book right now, and if you hear Philippa Gregory has a new book out, don’t tell me about it until after the new year. However, if a novella (or three) revolving around characters with superpowers, witches, goddesses, fairies – even the Krampus, and the city they can live in as “normal” people were to happen to be on sale for the holiday season… well, that would be basically perfect for me.
Would I recommend it? These books may not be for everyone, but I can’t imagine a better mid-holiday break for myself! Now I’m just hoping Santa brings me an Amazon gift card so I can read One Way Fare too!
I can’t forget to mention that Barb Taub, being that kind of a lovely lady, will be donating all her royalties this holiday season from these books, as well as her first (One Way Fare), to the No Kill Animal Advocacy Center and DogsTrust.
I encourage you to head over to Barb Taub’s site and read about her books, sale and donation plans.
As I experiment and learn in the greenhouse I may not yet have figured out how to make much of a meal for the family during the dark days of winter but there is no better food for the soul on a day like today than green, growing plants.
Our snow is gone.
The plastic sleds left in the yard on a snowy day have melted their way down to the leaf covered ground.
We are just calling the sleds “boats” until the snow flies again.