I like to end each evening, sitting quietly in the dark for a moment before bed, with whatever creature happens to still be stirring in the house, and let myself get lost in the lights on the tree. I'm not sure if you can even call it reflection that I indulge in, probably looking without blinking would be a more apt description, but it's a tradition that I find comforting and calming and one that I intend to keep.
I also send Christmas cards. And yes, I send the annual brag letter to people with whom I haven't been in close contact throughout the year. I realise this is turning me into somewhat of an anomaly, increasingly so each year, but I really do enjoy the process. I admit I get a little overwhelmed by the stacks and stacks of cards spilling off the dining room table and by the realization that I am only up to the Gs in the address book, and holy crap I don't have quite enough stamps so I am going to have to stand in line at the post office again. But it is worth it to me, in order to maintain contact with people.
It's sort of like the anti-Facebook.
A large number of people on my Christmas card list are elderly. Some of them are parents of friends, some are former neighbours, some are relatives, and some are old friends of my parents whom I started writing to on their behalf and whom I continue to write to now that they are gone. These elderly people are the ones who ultimately keep me writing Christmas cards. They are never going to be on Facebook, and sadly, there are fewer and fewer of them each year. I like to think that they enjoy being remembered, even if it does mean they have to read my big braggy letter each year.
Of course I always fear getting their cards returned to me, or getting a card from their son or daughter a few weeks later, letting me know that their parent is no longer with us. I hate the act of crossing their name out of my address book and I try to do it with as much respect as I can.
Today I received a card from a former neighbour, now well into his eighties, with whom we always exchange Christmas messages. He doesn't mention his dog any longer and I don't want to ask, but just knowing that he is still around and still in his own home makes me grateful. And I know that he enjoys our correspondences as well, as he makes mention of rereading last year's letter from us and commenting on things that I said a year ago. You know it must mean something to someone if they keep your letter for a year.
And that is why, despite the fact that sending Christmas cards is falling into disfavour, for being archaic and environmentally unsound and costly and time-consuming when there are faster, cheaper, easier options, I will always send Christmas cards. Until they have to pry the pen from my cold, dead fingers.
Do you have any traditions that you refuse to give up, despite all odds?
What keeps you doing the same thing year in and year out?