I sent no Christmas cards last year.
I had thought this chore was part of growing up, of being an adult. I started my first year out of college, not quite enthusiastically, but dutifully. I sent them to all the relatives in my parents’ database, people I knew of but did not really know. To that list, I added my friends from college, people I wanted to stay in touch with even when distance would make this difficult.
Only two replied. I received a lovely, tender note from a black-sheep uncle, only a few weeks before his death, and I received a wandering, long-winded letter from a wonderfully eccentric ex-aunt I’m still somewhat in touch with. Outsiders keep together.
The rest of the family never responded, but I didn’t really expect them to. We had never really been part of each other’s lives. Nor did my friends answer, but I didn’t really expect them to. Their experience of Christmas was different from my own, the custom a foreign one in many cases. Besides, we were of a generation predisposed to email over handwriting.
Still, I sent cards every year to the entire list. That’s what one does, right? Each year, I holed up at a quiet corner table in the pub (this being one of the tasks that is greatly assisted by a few pints), and jotted out glittering, handwritten greetings and platitudes. There are worse ways to spend an evening, though the barman stuck dealing with the glittery remnants soon to be tracked everywhere by the December crowds may have disagreed.
This year, I did not. Instead I sent emails- not to family, but to spanky friends, friends who in some cases I’d not heard from in years, in other cases to people I’d never interacted with directly, but whose writing I’d admired quietly for years.
They all wrote back. Every. Single. One.
Thank you all. Thank you for your friendship, your support. Thank you for being there, even when we don’t hear from each other in ages.
Thank you for reminding me about where I should be spending my time, where I should be sharing my energy.