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What happened to old-fashioned Christmas cards? Winter scenes sparkling with glitter.  Gold foil wreaths with red berries. The three kings at a manger scene with a glittering star above. I miss that kind of Christmas card, the ones you could save and look at years later or use in a craft project. No matter what kind of card I receive, however, I appreciate being remembered by my friends at this time of year. I really do, especially when, in the past, I have not been faithful about sending out cards each year. Sometimes life gets in the way and eats away at the time we have. Even though I like reading my friends’ newletters and seeing their children, I really miss the artistic and lovely cards of the past which reflect not only the time period in which they are given but also the personalities of the senders.

So far this year I have received a few cards, some of which are actual cards, but most of which are newsletters or a picture of people I don’t even know, our friends’ children. I probably shouldn’t comment on this sensitive subject, but I feel compelled to make the case that most people—well, maybe some people—don’t really care what their friends’ children look like. I would much prefer if you are going to send a picture of your kids that you, my friend, include yourself in the picture. I want to see YOU! I don’t care how much you’ve changed over the years. In fact, that is what I would like to know. It helps me merge the image I have carried of you over the years with who you are now. It allows me connect with the people in my life and recreate an image of you to hold on to, one I can embrace as I embrace the differences I see in the mirror every day. I want to know how you’ve changed, how you’ve been, what you’ve done since we were last together. Wrap all that up in an artful card when you send holiday greetings. It’s better than a present to me!

Unlike some people I LOVE getting holiday newsletters. I know they’ve been maligned and lampooned over the years, but finding out what all our far-flung family and friends have done over the past year is exciting for me, especially since we can’t get together the way we once did. I enjoy reading about the accomplishments of you and your children and about what has happened in your lives. If you can manage to make the letters funny also, that’s a huge bonus, but absolutely not necessary. Not all of us are Lewis Grizzard or Rick Bragg or my new favorite column writer, Allison Glock. Just hearing about your exploits makes me feel closer to you. If I’m honest about these newsletters, I also must confess that since you are writing to an English teacher turned writer and an English major who aspires to be in publishing one day, Shannon and Erik respectively, you will be graded on your grammar and punctuation! Just kidding…sort of. It’s an affliction really, one we can’t help, but don’t be discouraged from sending us your news! We love hearing from you.

This season I will be sending out the trifecta, our newletter complete with a picture stuffed inside a beautiful card I bought at Walgreen’s. I tried to purchase cards with a bit of sparkle embodying not only the beauty of the season but also the reason for the season, the birth of Christ. Though this has been a difficult year for us, I will still include information about our accomplishments and our failures because those things have made us who we are in 2012. I can’t say I won’t be happy to see this year come to an end. I will. But I also want to take the time to remember our blessings and share those with my friends. I want to reconnect with people we have known for years and share our lives again, if only for the few moments they read what I have written.

As they near the end of the letter, I hope they will look at our picture and remember fondly the times we were together. I hope the memories give life to our friendship once again. I wish we could spend every Christmas with the ones we love, no matter how far away they are, but until then, Christmas cards will have to do. In the hectic pace of our lives, it’s really too bad we don’t take the time to write to each other more than once a year and send something we can hold in our hands to remember the people we hold in our hearts all year.