Every year, despite the computer technology, my husband and I go through the year-end ritual of buying, writing in, addressing and mailing holiday cards.
And every year, I look at the list of who got cards, and who sent us cards. I am amazed at how many friendships we’ve managed to keep going, some barely, with these once-a-year cards.
Some of our friends have computerized mailing lists. As long as our names aren’t removed from the list, we’ll get a card. One card goes to my husband’s mother’s cousin, a woman who has been through many travails. Another goes to the daughter of another cousin who surprised us with a card years ago and, when we responded, put us on her computerized list. One goes to my sister, with whom I have communicated only by card for decades.
Most of the names on the list are friends with whom I have an active e-mail correspondence. However, there are a few who only write me when I write them first, or who don’t respond at all to my e-mails. To these people I stubbornly send a card to remind them of my existence. Many of my friends are active on Facebook, but I am not among them.
Some of our friends have moved around quite a lot over the years. It is interesting to see their progress via my old-fashioned address book. One had a New Jersey address when I met him. Over the decades that address was subsequently crossed out, and an arrow pointed to a new address in Philadelphia that was superseded by another address in Philadelphia. He is now in Dallas. He’ll get a card.
Sadly, this year I must remove the name of my friend and former employer who died just months after his 95th birthday.
It is hard to acknowledge I am at an age where the card list is going to start getting smaller soon, unless I make a better effort to either make more friends or maintain the ones I have. That’s why we visited some of our Boston-area friends this year, and next year we want to see friends south of the Mason-Dixon line.
Still, I think of the ones no longer here – my 95-year-old friend, and another friend who died last year two weeks after his 56th birthday. And two months ahead of my own birthday. I think of one of my Boston friends who, while very much alive, has been fighting cancer for over a decade. We are not going to live forever, despite what many in my generation may think.
So, my friends who hear from me once a year, I am sorry about that. But now I am sending you an old-fashioned holiday card to keep our friendship alive, if only by a thread. Are you alive or dead? Are you still my friend?
I hope to hear from you again this year.