Monday, December 05, 2005

For Auld Lang Syne

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Auld lang syne - (n.) - The times gone past; the good old days. Scottish hymn of remembrance.
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I’ve been stressing because I haven’t gotten our portraits back from the Studio yet. They were supposed to be ready on the 30th – Then they were supposed to be in on the 2nd and now definitely on the 8th. URGH! Anyone who knows me will tell you this delay is just about enough to give me a massive stroke. It wouldn’t be half as bad if we didn’t use the portraits in our annual Christmas cards, for which I like to be the first person to get their cards out. So by the time I get them scanned, dropped in, printed and mailed, which will be the 9th at the earliest and probably more like the 10th or even the 12th because I have to write a little personal note in each card too because I’m all thoughtful that way and want all our loved ones to feel especially thought about … I know I won’t be the first. URGH!!!

I know, I’m the queen of anal-ness. (shrug)

To maximize my production time, I addressed all my envelopes this weekend so they’re ready. I have also bought a new address book that comes with a Christmas Card tracking list in the back. You can list your recipients, and there’s a box to check for whether you sent a card for said year, and if you received one. There are columns for about 5 years out. In the past I’ve simply kept my handwritten list of who I sent to in my address book, and kept hold of the previous year’s cards to have a rough idea of such. But this more efficient method of tracking seemed good, not to mention less cluttery.

I figured that this year’s list would be smaller than last years, as we kind of used Christmas cards as an excuse to notify people who didn’t already know that we’d moved that summer, but while reorganizing my address book and list, I came to the shocking realization that we still send cards to at least 75 different addresses. Holy moley! I didn’t even realize we knew that many people!

As I got to thinking about this, I noticed something. My husband has a large family, so we send a lot of cards out to family anyway. This is no problem. And of course there are people you send cards to because you just do. Coworkers, business and social organization associates, selected neighbors, old college roommates with whom a mutual understanding of busy-ness is held, things like that. But there are a lot of people on our list that we don’t even really talk to anymore. Some of the people, we don’t even really think about except at Christmas time. Yet we send cards year after year. Most are reciprocated, others are not. But we continue to send cards to old friends from high school we haven’t seen in years. People we used to run around with before we were parents and haven’t really seen since becoming. Old coworkers. The couple we met on vacation in 1999 and kept in regular touch with for a few years but never talk to anymore. A girl I was best friends with in 3rd grade who moved away and then I saw her wedding announcement in the paper 10 or 12 years ago because her parents moved back and so I dropped her a note. We wrote back and forth regularly for a while, then it dwindled down to a few times a year, and then just Christmas cards.

Something about the holidays gets us feeling very reflective. We remember the people belonging to the names in our address books (which is a lot for me since I tend to keep the same book and subsequently the same entries for a million years), and think back on the times we shared. We want to collectively reminisce with them, so we send a card. Sorry we haven’t been in touch, let’s get together in the new year, blah blah blah. Then the same thing in the following year’s card. Never having gotten together, written or talked.

I'm a sentimental fool, that's the problem. I hate to get rid of anything that was dear to me, especially friends. But perhaps it’s time to look at our Christmas list with the old adage of packing for a move – if you haven’t touched it in a few years, chances are you won’t even miss it. Not that I wouldn’t miss these people, but they aren’t really even around anyway ...

I have a theory about friendship. People who are supposed to be in your life will be in your life. We often drift apart for various reasons, and that’s natural. When one or the other is inspired to rekindle the friendship, get back in touch, sometimes that’s all it takes. If it doesn’t happen naturally, then maybe their role in your life is over, for now anyway. So why is it sometimes difficult to actually cross that name off the list? Is breaking the chain somehow, in our minds, admitting that these once meaningful relationships never were meaningful? Does it mean that if I don’t send a card, that I will lose that part of myself? Of course not. Letting go doesn’t mean forgetting or that all shared that was once valued is no more. It just means, “Vaya con Dios”. Still, I know I will trim my list with great regret about many of the cuts.

But that's a task for next year. This year, I'll give everyone one more chance to love us back.


Martie said...

And love you we do! Good point made though in trimming the card list.

Anonymous said...

Just chill and take a deep breath. It's all apart of the holiday madness. It will blow over and everything will work itself out according to your timeline. Trust me.

Nicole said...

You were dead on when you said "Is breaking the chain somehow, in our minds, admitting that these once meaningful relationships never were meaningful?"...very true & sometimes hard to admit.

Lori said...

wow, does this sound familiar! I try to trim a little each year, but hard to let go of some, regardless. I have my sister take our pics at Thanksgiving time and now that I have all of those back, I have no excuses! I, too, have to add those personal little notes in each and it takes awhile. Hopefully I'll get most finished up by the end of the weekend. If you lived closer we could pack up our cards and lists and pull an all-niter of card writing together!

Cheryl said...

You are so right about friendships! I really do believe that some friends are meant to walk with us through certain times of our life, but there comes a time when we drift apart. Then there are the "golden circle" of lifetime friends. It is hard to let go when the time comes.

But I am SO not you when it comes to worrying about Christmas cards. I'm lucky to get them out on Christmas Eve, even.

Seabiscuit said...

I know some who aren't sending many cards out this year due to cutting back on expenses. I've not ever had that many people to send cards out to. So for me, expense is not yet an issue.

Rebecca said...

First off - WOW. You are so organized!!! :) I'm in admiration... My printer is on the fritz so I'll be handwriting all of them when they come tomorrow. One hour, lots of holiday music and coffee -- and a wrist brace for when I'm done! hahaha.

We too, have a list of about 75 people that we send to. And when you eliminate close friends and family there is that list of "acquaintences"...high school friends that we reconnected with, former neighbors, friends that are on the "C" list,etc...You know what, I can't sever that tie either. But I don't necessarily think that I want to. I think that while we aren't in each other's lives on a daily basis - nor are they likely people that I would hang out with on a regular basis even if I had the time - they still have a place in our lives, even if it's only for nostalgia's sake. I love when I see their kids growing up (as I hope they enjoy seeing mine!) and I think that it helps us feel reconnected to where we once were in life that was a positive time; it might tie us to good memories. That's the rationale I've come up with for it, so I say "to hell with trimming the list!" Besides -it's only once a year.... :)


A Spoon said...

wish i was that well prepared! i havnt even bought the envelopes , yet alone the cards!:)

Michael Lehet said...

I love that you have people you used to "run around with" I say that and people look at me funny!

I agree it is always difficult to cross a name off the list, but sometimes it needs to be done. I've tried to rekindle a few friendships like that and it was sort of like Pet Semetery.