You’ve Got Mail – Hugs Included

Posted on January 11, 2012

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Sending warm wishes

I’m ashamed that while everyone around me is making New Year’s resolutions, I have only now (this second week of January) sent out my annual year-end letter for 2011 to family and friends – the old-fashioned, snail-mail way with stamps and everything. My excuse for not sending my yearly review in a timely manner with Christmas cards is that our household was hit by a nasty flu bug for a few weeks and I figured better late than not at all . It’s a yearly tradition that my husband and I have been doing, recording and sharing our family’s episodes and changes over decades, actually since our children were little.

I remember as a child watching my mother jot down short writings into the handful of Christmas cards she would send to relatives living across the country. She said it was the only time she connected with some of them over the course of the year because long-distance phone calls were so expensive. Often her hands would be sore from all the scribbles and envelope addressing. There seemed to be sigh of relief when she finally passed the stack of greetings to the postal clerk for mailing. It was a routine she kept going into her 80’s, until her hands lacked the stamina and steadiness she needed to continue. She always enjoyed receiving similar cards and notes in the mail. They were reminders of caring amidst the sea of regular bills and flyers.

Through the harried years of child-raising, it was important to note milestones in development, school achievements, special events, trips, etc., so I began buying those wall calendars with the large squares for writing appointments in. Each month’s page was covered with circles and arrows and highlighted days with notes. By the time the end of December rolled around, I could look back through the months and chronologically jog my memory of the year’s events. From there, it was a simpler task for my Hubby and me to create “the story” of that year. Unknowingly, we were writing our family history.

Looking back, those annual sagas included wonderful memories of travels to the Maritimes, visits abroad exploring the U.K., backyard playtime, snow sculptures, school awards, and family pets. We also included health blips along the way, and a few horrendous relocations. So as we age, and forgetfulness is a daily obstacle, reading the past letters (which are stored on computers for convenience) have become  useful in recollecting those times for us as well as for our adult children.

As is expected over time, our list of letter recipients has gotten shorter. Perhaps it’s a matter of quality over quantity with the relationships we have now – although in the back of my mind I remember my mom’s hands eventually wearing out with the task. I do have the advantage of a keyboard and a computer with editing and photo capabilities instead of a cheap ballpoint pen. But despite that, I still print the letters and send them via regular post instead of electronically because I think there’s still a joy to be had in receiving that little bulging envelope at the same time each year. It’s happy news, not another blasted bill. It’s a family tradition I hope I can continue for many years to come. Just the other day, our daughter remarked that she’s thinking of sending out a yearly letter of her own now that she has a family. That would be great – more hugs in the mail!

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Posted in: Traditions