It’s in the Cards

Nov 29, 2020 | Christmas, Family

This writer’s family is sending out holiday cards of gratitude.

Every holiday season, I’m afraid Santa is going to knock me off of his “nice” list. Even though I’ve done my best all year long to be a thoughtful person by yielding to oncoming traffic and by putting up the toilet seat for my husband and 7-year-old son, there’s one good deed I can’t manage to accomplish. I’m that friend who never sends out a holiday card. At least I’ve been consistent in my failing. Maybe this year, however, all that should change, because this is the year everything has changed.

I’m not a Grinch when it comes to spreading holiday cheer. From the time I was old enough to seasonally decorate, I did. As a child, this meant hanging handmade paper snowflakes in my room. As an adult, this means hanging holiday lights in all the rooms before my 7-year-old has taken off his Halloween costume or unwrapped his first treat from his candy stash. I enjoy immersing myself in all the joy, and all the baked goods, this magical season has to offer.

While I adore the celebrating, I can become overwhelmed with all the holidays expect of me. Normally, there are school functions, holiday soirées, shopping lists, and family plans that all compete for my attention. Like the Grinch’s heart in the classic cartoon, my usual To-Do list grows “three sizes bigger” and taking the time to write out stacks of holiday cards slips to the bottom of my list. However, this year is shaping up to be a whole lot different than the busy years of seasons past.

Back in February, after I packed away my last string of blinking holiday lights, there was no way I could have predicted what the rest of the year would hold. It’s hard to believe that “social distancing” and “virtual homeschooling” are phrases that roll off my tongue as easily as “Elf on The Shelf” and “Wuzzle Wuzz.” My family’s holiday plans have changed. We won’t be traveling to visit extended family, and there aren’t school parties for which I must prepare. My To-Do list just got a whole lot shorter.

All of this continued change has brought a great deal of uncertainty. I’m not sure what our holiday will look like (especially for my son) and this worry hangs around my heart like the smoke from my holiday candles hovers around our kitchen. I search for the familiar to keep my family grounded, but I can’t find it. Since we won’t be finding any normalcy in our holiday routine, perhaps it’s time to roll with the changes and change up our own seasonal rituals.

During a time when bonds with friends and family have been difficult to maintain, finally sending out those holiday cards might be just the ticket to focus on something that hasn’t changed—the bond we have with those we love. Letters have always been a wonderful way to let loved ones know they’re remembered and designing our own cards together is a great way to keep our own family connection burning brightly. Not to mention, what better age to introduce this classic element of the holiday experience to our son? But with a newfangled twist.

Included in each letter, we’re going to write a note explaining why our friend or family member is appreciated. Studies have shown that gratitude helps people focus on what they have instead of what they have not, and through all the change and uncertainty, we all have each other. And who knows? Maybe this year we’ll start a new (soon-to-be old) family tradition. Now, to find my address book.

P.S. Enjoy these tasty appetizers during the holidays.

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