The day after Thanksgiving our first Christmas card arrived from my aunt Lois. Her's is always the first card that we receive. On the front were four festive penguins ready to start celebrating. My cards always seem to go out late, as I put off writing the family newsletter. It seems I need to be in a particular mood to write. I realize that not everyone enjoys the letters, but most people comment on how much they like ours. With six children and now four grand children, there will be plenty of news about the events of the year. The letter becomes the next page in our family album, now covering over thirty years. I will not send out a letter to all of my email or facebook friends, but if you want to read it let me know. My family pre-screens the letter before it goes public as a security check.
So far we have gotten five cards. With the economy the way it is, I am not surprised to see the tradition slowly dying out. I must admit though that I truly enjoy receiving them and especially reading the wonderful newsletters and pictures that others share.
The second card that came is from Art and Connie, in Chicago, Illinois. I met this couple while working on the family history of my client Carmen. We actually connected through ancestry.com, when I emailed them about their family tree posted online. Once I convinced them that they were truly related, we opened a wonderful channel of collaboration. Their card shows the front door of a home with a beautiful wreath, welcoming all who pass by to enter. That is just what we feel from the connection we have with these newly discovered relatives. Carmen even called them, after getting their card, to catch up on what they have been doing.
Card number three was from my husbands relative Myrla, who lives in Joseph, Oregon. She is one of the family historians and her newsletter highlights all the important family changes for the year. One year we attended the family reunion there, and the next day she and I spent several ours sharing our family research information and pictures. On her card are five adorable puppies sitting in hanging Christmas stockings. These remind me of how unique we all are and yet how much we have in common.
A couple of days later arrived card four, from our niece Jessica and her family. It is the first card this year with a family picture. This is very meaningful, as we have never met her family. All four of them have very engaging smiles and seem very excited about the holiday season. We do stay connected through facebook and I enjoy learning about her family activities. Their two adorable daughters lead very busy lives.
The most recent card is from dear friends from our old neighborhood. I just love the scene on the card as it reminds me of their home. Not exactly like their house, but the smoke rising from the chimney and well lighted home reminds me of them. There is a nice plump snowman, looking at a beautifully lighted Christmas tree. The note in their card relates that this year has been difficult for them with health problems and losing a close family member. As with most of us, the highlight of their lives is their two grandchildren. When we lived by them we had five children and they had one son. Our children spent a lot of time together, even though he was a few years older.
So, what do these five cards have in common? They represent kindred connections that have developed through inter-actions in each other's lives. These are not chance encounters that fizzle off after the initial meeting. We develop the strong ties through being a part of each other's joys, accomplishments, difficulties and sorrows. I believe they are the keystones of our lives.
Now to get to work on the family newsletter. Here is wishing you some Christmas greetings both in the snail mail, in online connections, or a phone call to those you need to catch up with. If you do a family newsletter and are willing to share, I am one person you can add to your list. Even if you don't share your letter with others, it is a nice addition to your family history.