We rush around each year, jumping from store to store, website to website, with wish lists in our pockets. Time ticks while coveted items disappear from stores and we stress over getting the last one. All the while, we struggle to get lights on trees, decorations perfectly placed, and mail out cards on time. December turns into January before we even have a chance to come up for air. The rushed days filled with Holiday to-dos makes the month feel like the shortest one of the year. Each January, I mourn December: if only I had slowed down then perhaps the month would have slowed down as well. I love December and her spirit.
I have been thinking about this a lot lately. It’s the middle of December already and it feels like last December. My cards are not done, shopping is not quite wrapped up (pun intended), half the lights on my fully decorated tree went out, and gifts that need to be mailed out still sit in bags. But what’s speaking even louder to me is something that I have not managed to complete for four years straight: Christmas letters to my family.
Sitting in my office, I see the corner of a now slightly tattered Christmas card that I purchased for my husband. And behind that card, sits two more blank cards each intended for my children. The cards have sat in my desk organizer waiting for my thoughts for four years! Each time I reorganize my papers, I leave the cards there so that THIS Christmas I will actually remember to write in them. Well, it’s not that I don’t remember. I don’t slow down and I tell the cards “tomorrow”. They quietly stay in their places, acquiring a few more wrinkles and yellow a little more, while another December goes by.
I have wanted to give my husband and kids more than material gifts. I have wanted to give them the gift of words. Words are never out of stock (although they do sometimes make you chase them around) and they last forever. Each December, I begin to silently collect my thoughts and then get distracted by the lists in my pocket and the lights that refuse to stay lit. My thoughts just haven’t made it off the shelves of my mind and into their cards. But this year will be different and this is my proclamation.
It’s been my intention to take a long pause to really reflect on each one of my family members and what they mean to me. I tell them often, but I never write to them. A spoken word, while heard, is not always held onto. Distractions quickly take over thoughts and they can sometimes start to fade. A written word has permanence that can be revisited over and over. My letters will look back on moments from the passing year, how they have made me proud, thankful, loved, and what I love about each one of them. The letters will be there to support them in the New Year and maybe taken out of drawers when reminders are needed. And when my kids ask me what I want for Christmas, I will say only a letter. Only it’s not just a letter. They are priceless thoughts from their hearts that I will cherish forever. The same goes for my husband. He already gives me so much throughout the year.
Here’s to my vision that a new tradition starts in the Bahr household. And when I am 88 years old, longing for the years of the past (or forgetful), I will have my letters to warm and remind my heart of the blessings I have had throughout the years.
May we all slow down this Holiday season and take a long pause to intentionally reflect on our loved ones, as well as the year that we have been blessed with. It’s not all about opening presents, it’s about opening hearts. And may your words find their way to paper along with me. There is still a place in this world for the written word.
I wish you peace and love this Holiday season. xo