Our family doesn’t typically do the Christmas Card thing. At least not in the sense of buying a professionally-produced card, writing up a family newsletter with photos, and adding a hand-written greeting before dropping it in the mail. But it’s not for a lack of love. We love our family, our friends, and our neighbors. We love to receive others’ Christmas greetings. And we just generally love to keep in touch with those we love.
But we don’t typically do the Christmas Card thing because I send out eleven or twelve newsletters, or “prayer letters,” per year for our Reliant ministry team. And our Reliant ministry team (God bless them!) just so happens to overlap pretty heavily with the group who we would otherwise include in a Christmas Card mailing. So, that means they already get a Christmassy prayer letter in early-December, which includes a new family photo, or “prayer card.” And then they also get an annual retrospective report, or “State of the Ministry Address,” which includes a more substantial family update, in mid-January. Everyone is welcome to receive our monthly updates: whether you’re a Christian or not, whether you want to financially support our ministry or not. We send them both by email and by the U.S. Postal Service, according to the receivers’ preferences.
So seriously: please let us know if you’d like to be added to our prayer letter distribution list!
But with all that said, I’ve been wondering about a supplement, or a variation on the Christmas Card thing. Our family just got a card from our friend Alicia, and it literally made me cry. She talked about the way that joy and sorrow are so often intermingled. And then she went on to share many of her and her family’s most notable joys and sorrows through a personal recap of the last year. She talked about her daughters and grandchildren living in different states. She talked about her neighbors and her extended family. And she talked, most poignantly, about her husband’s process of dying. Her writing reminded me of one of my favorite authors, Wendell Berry: so specific and yet so universal. Achingly, hauntingly beautiful. She finished the letter by writing the following:
…For some things we grieve, but in all things we rejoice. Or try… Our God is so good. Christmas is proof… Addressing the envelopes to you is a wonderful opportunity to pray for you. We do.”
Alicia signed the newsletter “Love from Alicia and Henry.” And after the two-sided newsletter, there was a lovely single-sided photo page. Pretty typical. But after the photo page, there was something very atypical. Alicia included an addendum. And in the addendum, Alicia described the way that Henry died on December 12th: in between the time that the Christmas letter was written and the time that the Christmas letter was sent out. So, Alicia shared the news of his death, and she included a draft of his obituary. Also beautifully written. It was all so real. And meaningful. And it made me wonder if I need to figure out a way to share similar glimpses of our family life (independent of these online spaces). The “Prayer Letter Thing” and the “Christmas Card Thing” are similar, but not identical.
It’s not realistic for me to send out physical cards in the next week. But I’m thinking about writing up a little family newsletter and posting it here on my website. And then I’m thinking about sending text messages with a family photo and a link to the family newsletter. We’ll see. There’s a lot of hurrying and scurrying in the last week before Christmas. But I kind of want to make it happen. So: stay tuned!