Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

The Point of Schmaltzy Holiday Cards

Writing Christmas cards annoys me every year. I’m happy to keep in touch with friends of old, but all that writing saying not too much becomes wearisome. I’ve been spoiled by the instant gratification of texts. And then I receive answering cards. Hooray! If there’s one aspect of life I’ve been missing since 2016, it’s good news—news of love and community and people caring about other people. This year, I rejoice at positive news about several people who have a permanent place in my heart.

Four people in my circle have cancer. Some of them have other complicating conditions, as well. All have complicated lives. Their good news is two of them have good reports so their future looks promising. Two other people with debilitating conditions are improving steadily. (I’m thrilled!) And three more are holding the line against further decline. What does all this have to do with me and you? First, we realize our struggles with despair or loneliness or discouragement are not life threatening and, thus, are as huge as we make them. Sometimes facing life is a greater challenge than facing the end of it. We’ve all lost people we love this year, so what is the meaning of our survival? Why them and not us?

If we believe survival is nothing but a continuation of bodily functions—what one Denver weatherman used to call M.O.T. S (More Of The Same), survival seems random, even largely pointless. But some of the people who died wanted very much to live on and why?  They had things to do, people to love, self-discoveries to make. It’s not that they expected to win awards, get rich, or invent world-changing patents. They simply wanted to enjoy being here a little longer. As Langston Hughes wrote, “I could’ve died for love—/But for livin’ I was born.”

So, true survival is more than extended breathing. We survive to do precisely what those who died wished they could do. We survive to be us, because that’s what our charge is—to be the most us we can be. Some of us believe we’re here to learn and improve in any way we can. Sometimes that means doing something as small as caring how someone else is doing—contributing what we can to more love or happiness or wellbeing in the world. When I can tell I’ve made someone’s day brighter, light happens inside of me so my day is brighter. Self-help.

I have no clue how the people who feed voraciously on piety and distrust and fear or even hate can face each new day. Surely they have people in their bunkers with them for whom they feel great affection. Experience has proven time and again that our connections preserve us. When I received good news about the health of people I love, I was ecstatic. Their triumph is my triumph. My heart goes out to those whose news isn’t as encouraging. Their trials are my trials, as well. Now and then there’s a bit of love I can give them. As the cancer people say, love can’t always cure, but it always heals. The ability to know and care makes all that darned card-writing worthwhile.

2 comments on “The Point of Schmaltzy Holiday Cards

  1. Frances Sullivan
    December 13, 2021

    Every word a balm for my spirit. Thank you for your thoughtful message of hope, light, and love. Missing you this season but ever-connected in the e-ether, too. Wishing you only the good stories this season. May they continue to challenge the darkness and be a salve for your soul.

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