It’s nice to get cards at the holidays, even when they are just a pretty illustration and a signature. It lets you know the person is still around and thinking of you. It’s even better to get a picture of the person or family and one of those update letters. Even when it reads like a family press release.
For years our family has sent a picture and a short note to a short list of recipients. Friends out of the area like to keep up with the growth of the kids and the graying of the parents. But things tend to get so busy that season of year. By the time we all get together for the photo, get the list together and write the cards our family greetings often arrive closer to Valentines day.
But this year I have a new plan. I’m sending Thanksgiving cards. It’s given me an opportunity to express my gratitude to many of the people who make my life better. My doctor, our tree trimmer, the man who remodeled our house, the physical therapist who guided me back from an injury, the newspaper editor who helped build my career as a writer. Top on my list are my wonderful sisters in law and even friends I see a lot. Through the cards I can convey in a very intentional way how thankful I am that they are in my life.
I tend to be a pretty grateful person, but this gesture seems to provide the opportunity, in a concrete way, to remind people of just how much they are appreciated.
I am as busy on email as most people, but I decided on handwritten notes for this purpose. Stamps at the ready, envelopes addressed, I dug in. Each note expressed my gratitude and specifics about why I feel the person makes my life and or the lives of others so much better. It’s been a wonderful process. I carried my little folder and used waiting time and relaxing time to complete the cards. This year I made it through 25, but could have done more. That is a good sign. One benefit of such a process is the reminder of all the good people in a person’s life.
I think it will be a pleasant surprise to those who receive a handwritten note. I imagine them getting the cards, reading them and having them to reread if they ever needed to be reminded that they are appreciated.
I have always believed that when we shine the light of appreciation it reflects back upon us. The glow will carry me into the crazy parts of the upcoming holidays with more peace.
No matter what faith you have or what holidays you celebrate, it is nice to know that you are appreciated, that at this time of thanksgiving you are a reason for that feeling. We may still get our Christmas photo and cards out and it will probably be a little late as usual. I’ve thought about just putting the photos on plain red paper. Then, if they arrive near the beginning of February, friends will think how thoughtful and efficient we are sending Valentine Cards. Efficient? Maybe not. Grateful? Absolutely.
DeMersseman is a Rapid City native who lives and writes in Oakland, Calif.