Those Who Matter

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.

15 thoughts on “Those Who Matter

  1. There is of course a saying that you can choose your friends but not your family. I have an extensive family… somewhere. I have nothing to do with them.

    1. Wow- I had no idea. Makes me look at some of your stories in a rather new light. You do write the “fresh start” very well!

      1. I didn’t mean my own immediate family… children and so forth. I meant the rest of the extended and extensive family. Sometimes you have to just accept that you’re flogging a dead horse.

  2. What I do is never sent Christmas cards to people I see a lot. What I do is send cards about my life is going, a type written letter inside a card to people I don’t see as a way to keep in touch. We all have our own ways.

    1. Communicating in whatever way with people that matter as opposed to sending cards out of a sense of duty is so much more important but I suppose like a lot of us I have been guilty of this. Thank you for making me think

    2. That’s a good idea, and one I’ve considered. Was a bit to stressed/lazy to make the attempt last year. Perhaps next time?

  3. I haven’t sent Christmas cards in years – I am quite grown-up. I still get a few from cousins and aunts – but bet they don’t notice my lack of reciprocation. It is a habit (and an expensive one) 😉

    You are not alone.

  4. Hi Kia. I didn’t send Christmas cards this year either. I usually do, mostly. I did think about sending an email greeting instead but didn’t end up doing that either!

    What I love about this is that all the friends you emailed replied back to you. That really is special.

    PS. I’ve never filled out my cards in a pub. Perhaps I’ll try that next year as an incentive. 🙂

    1. You could use eCards. They are easy to do and there is one which does the most beautiful cards. Membership is inexpensive and you can send as many cards as you like.

      1. Something I definitely need to look into! You set a very good example there yourself 🙂

  5. I am ambivalent about this, because I view Christianity as one of several options, in which there is some bad and some good. (Won’t get into questions of what Christmas itself REALLY means, could mean, should mean, or its history…) Now that I have possibly spoiled fun for some, I hope you will forgive me. I think I am
    what’s known as a “lurker” with a lot of appreciation for this blog and also for senders of Christmas cards. It can be an altruistic thing to do and, although I just said I would limit philosophical analysis… shouldn’t that pretty much be what the annual event is largely about?

    1. Oh dear lord am I behind on comment replies!

      Thank you so much for “delurking”, and apologies for not acknowledging this sooner!

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