Handwritten letters bring a personal touch to Christmas season

Lasha Morningstar

WE ARE ONE

December 1, 2014

Scurry. Search. Sigh. Yes, it is almost Christmas and the "What am I going to get her/him/them?" is starting to scramble through our minds. Nighttime too.

We mutter, "But they already have everything." Or, "I have no idea what to get them."

An idea! People decry those who send out Christmas letters. But at least they touch base and we have a bit of a catch up.

But what about an individual letter? That's right – pen, paper, envelope, stamp, maybe some photos to each specific person.

Now you can start telling the person you are writing about things you think they would want to know or should know.

With life being what it is, we all have changes happening – some good, some bad – in our lives. This changes us and it's only fair to let those we care about know what is going on.

Email, texting – it's all so easy. But usually they don't tell the whole story. Besides there are the rotten hackers.

Usually it has been ages since we received a letter.

The letter too takes a major part of the expense off the holidays. Just saying.

But it also takes thought, feelings, smatterings of truth and trouble, an extending of the hand of friendship. The person receiving that letter will know the effort you made and read it over maybe two or three times. If you are really lucky, they'll return the favour.

Letters are keepers. You tuck them away in a secret and safe place. You know they are precious to you because you tie them up with ribbon. At least I do.

St. Paul, one of the first Christian leaders, has 13 letters attributed to him in the Bible. Paul explained what was to come, what changes to expect.

Jump forward real fast, and we come to the "letter" I love to read. My beloved Pope Francis' homilies are savoured. I read them once. Twice. If they really hit the heart, I tuck them away somewhere in my computer.

Another favourite is Cardinal Cardinal Se├ín O'Malley's blog. There is a verity – telling of both joys and struggles of his Boston parish.

One of the dearest missives has been emails (not letters I know, but the only way she could keep in contact with all of us) from a friend doing her pilgrimage Camino de Santiago in Spain. It was as though all of her email friends were with her. Such a generous sharing.

Despite all the planning, a foot blistered up. I found myself at night praying as fiercely as I could that it would heal, and she could catch up with her friends.

Now technically, those were not letters. They were daily reports, a sharing of feeling, events and made some receiving the email begin to wonder if they too would like to take this spiritual trek.

If this is all too much, you mutter, "I'll be lucky to send out cards."

OK. Do that. Start mooching around the Christmas displays – yes, they are already out – and choose the cards that delight you. If you are really diligent, you can select one individual card for each person. But that takes thoughtfulness.

OUR HOLIDAY

The one thing to remember though is these cards are Christmas cards – cards that celebrate the birth of Christ. Give the politically correct "Happy Holidays" a pass. Christmas is our holiday, our celebration. Ours.

The next bit of fun is finding the right address for your friends. People move. People divorce. People die.

It takes a bit of detective work but it is worth it. Find one friend, call or email them, and they can put you on to another friend's address.

Doing this means caring. You care. That is what this helter skelter world is trying to rip away from us. If there was ever a time when we should care for each other, it is at the celebration of Christ's birth.

(Lasha Morningstar lasha@wcr.ab.ca)