By John Clise
The old man sat quietly in his apartment looking through a big box of Christmas cards as he did each holiday season. He’d managed to hold on to every Christmas card he’d gotten since 1969.
There were fewer these days as friends and colleagues had passed on. Those cards, though, some sent 50 years ago, brought back fond, often loving memories. Looking through the box just before Christmas had become one of his favorite traditions. On January 1, of each new year, he would put the cards he’d gotten in with the rest, and put them back in the closet until the following Christmas.
He found so many memories there in that box. He would laugh, cry, remember, hurt, feel joy, feel overwhelmed, and all the emotions in between.
Some cards he knew immediately from the envelope. Others found were pleasant surprises. The cards were nearly a lifetime of memories.
He loved sending cards and getting cards. Some thought it old fashioned or out of style. It didn’t stop him from sending them out every year. These days it was mainly to family, friends and for anyone he had an address.
The cards included wedding anniversaries, birth announcements, death notices, job promotions, vacation news, and plain old Christmas chit chat.
The cards also included pictures. Family, babies, young men and women in uniform, new cars, houses, friends, marriages, vacations, sports teams, and anything else the sender deemed important.
He’s always kept the pictures with the cards as a way to identify who was in the picture and the year it was taken. It was easier than to keep up a scrap book.
The cards were treasures to him. Memories of life. Memories of those no longer here. It was a glimpse into his past. A reminder of who he was through the years. A reminder of friends, coworkers, family through the years.
One card contained a $3 check from an aunt that somehow managed to never get cashed. Now it served as a keepsake.
Another card held a satin heart from girl he’d had a brief but lovely romance with when they were just out of school. She’d gone on to find a lifelong love with another, as he had done. The heart still brought a smile to his face.
He came across cards from his mom and dad, grandparents, best friend. Those cards were always full of love and Christmas cheer. “Love, Dad” was a line he always read at least 50 times, even as an old man. Your dad is always your dad.
He’d show some of the cards to the cat that came in from the fire escape to get out of the cold. The cat shipped at a few and shut his eyes drifting off to sleep next to the old man.
He had a yellow legal pad out to write some names on for cars this year. He knew he’d need to find some addresses. Some he had. Others he might need to be an internet sleuth to find. Or just make an unheard of phone call to ask for an address. He might even have to enlist the help of his youngest grandson.
His heart was full as he closed the big box and slid it back into the closet for another year.