Already I'm beginning to feel guilty! As I move around the stores I see all those Christmas cards displayed for sale. It's high time I attended to my Christmas mail.
You know what it's like -the agony of making decisions. The cost factor looms large. How many cards can I afford to buy? But this should not really worry me. There's a host of people who would be happy to receive my seasonal greetings by email -especially if I've designed something myself.
Then there's a different kind of affording that troubles me -can I afford not to send a card to this person or that? There would be those who would be greatly hurt if they did not hear from me. Others would be pleasantly surprised if they did. Do I want to give them this unexpected joy? Do I need to?
Then there's the sad side to this matter of getting in touch at this time of the year. Since last Christmas dear friends have died. They were certainly on my mailing list a year ago. A line has been drawn through their names in my address book. A laconic RIP marks inexpressible grief. I draw comfort that this year they will be celebrating Christmas in Heaven, or if they have not reached there yet, my fond hope is that they are on their way there.
For me, selecting Christmas cards is no casual exercise. With its pictures and words, a cards is a means of communication. Carefully, I weigh up what message I wish to convey to this person or that. Some cards marvelously express what Christmas means to me. I am delighted when I'm certain that what is precious to me will find its echo in those who receive the greetings. Not so easy when some of my friends are not especially Christian.
Then I decide it would be a mistake for me to send them cards depicting snowmen, robins or red-nosed reindeers. They know me and would expect me to bear witness to my belief that the Son of God was born on Christmas day.
Some Nativity pictures are glorious works of art. Others can be described as religious cartoons or fall into that marvelous internet category of clip art. No matter which, in some way they are all declarations of my faith and piety. Long before printing and photocopying, sacred art was a powerful means of evangelization -statues, paintings, stained glass. It remains true that a single picture says more than 1,000 words.
At this season, then, I reach God, my way, through the whole business of sending cards. It is something I either do for myself or I don't want to be done at all. For me it is meditation.
What does the Christmas theme mean to me?
This year, where would I like to place the emphasis?
Then I meditate in an almost religious way on the significance people have in my life and what they mean to me.
At one and the same moment I am very much in touch with God and with those I love. This has just occurred to me...getting down to sending Christmas cards is something like entering into a holy communion...I'm drawing friends around me, around the babe in the Bethlehem crib. This is not time wasted. Some may trash my greetings as junk mail. I really believe that in sending a Christmas card I'm sending something of me -my faith, my love -to people of my choice...
What a wonderful phrase, "People of my choice!"
Next week Isidore will meet God in a Smile