Before Madi was born, I used to make all my own Christmas cards. I put a ton of work into each one. I have a friend who framed each card and still uses them as part of her Christmas decorations.
When that got to be too much, I purchased cards and sent them. For a short time we printed cards with photos of the family. That all got to be too much as well, and in my effort to simplify my life at the holidays, card-giving seemed to be the one tradition I could let go of without causing me too much angst.
The problem is that I love Christmas cards. I love the beautiful imagery on the front; I love the sentiment inside, and much like a child, I simply love getting actual mail through the post.
When the holidays are over and everything is on sale, I can’t resist picking up a package of Christmas cards at half price. I rationalize that it’s good to have some on hand – just in case.
Earlier this week, I sent one of those “just in case“ cards, and I really looked at the sentiment for the first time. I had picked up the cards because they were cute, and I wanted to use them for a couple of kids I needed to send to. On the front was a retro looking Santa riding a tandem bicycle with a reindeer. In the process of writing a little note inside, I noticed that the sentiment said, “Hoping Santa brings you lots of everything you deserve.” Deserve? That sounds very passive-aggressive and maybe mildly threatening. I didn’t worry about it too much, hoping the kids would focus on the word SANTA and not mafioso wording.
Later I was looking over the cards I’ve received so far this year. They are so beautiful, but suddenly it hit me. They all portray a peace, a calmness, and a quietness. A quiet that seems to be missing from my days lately. When I have walked out of the house this week, there has been the din of blowing leaves and yard maintenance, the noise of construction, the racket of cutting down trees. Silence seems to be missing in this modern world, and I miss the quiet.
Back in 1993, my Uncle Bob passed away, and the funeral was held in the heat of summer in South Carolina. It was so hot, and we were all gathered at my grandma‘s house. She didn’t have air-conditioning, and we were all dressed in our Sunday best huddled around a fan in the middle of the living room. Grandma walked over and snapped the fan off and said she couldn’t take the noise anymore.
We all looked at each other forlornly, but not one of us had the chutzpah to turn it back on. Now I get what Granma was feeling. Every once in a while, I just need that kind of quiet as well.
A friend had related an experience of walking the dog in the cold, wee hours of the morning, and the peace that was to be found in that moment.
As much as I love sitting by the Christmas tree and enjoying the glow from it and the various decorations around the house, nothing compares to the quiet that lies around us like a blanket late at night.
I went out close to midnight the other night to check the mail, and as soon as I crossed the threshold all noise not only ceased, but seemed to press in on me, the cold brought everything into focus and emphasized the beauty of the night sky.
I love Christmas. I love people who are so enthusiastic that the lights on their house can probably be seen in space. I love the exuberance of a season so big that it seems to affect most everyone, but every once in a while, I love the quiet stillness of the night sky on a cold evening. So while I wish you joy and peace and love, I also wish you a little bit of silence to truly soak up the season.