During the pandemic, I started leaving Christmas cards hanging prominently in the house throughout the year. When the first card of the new season arrives, they come down and I start building the wall of cards again. I shared this on Facebook, and learned that I’m not alone in this practice. I’n not sure if it says more about my friend list or those most likely to do this, but all of the comments from friends saying they did the same thing came from clergywomen. Maybe it’s a way for us to live into the season, beyond the craziness of our church and home calendars.
I love seeing the cards, and it keeps each sender closer in my thoughts and prayers throughout the year. In a time when we haven’t been able to *see* each other or be together nearly as much as we used to, it has been a form of physical presence for which I’ve been deeply grateful.
This year I’ve been late. I usually try to order my cards before or by Thanksgiving. I had been waiting, hoping we could get a nice, new professional family photo. I tried - but couldn’t get it scheduled on the one weekend it would have worked for us. Then things got busier, and before I knew it, we were into December and the cards still hadn’t been ordered. I finally ordered them, and kept waiting, and waiting… Appropriate for Advent, I suppose. The company emailed and said they were putting “extra magic” into the cards, and thanked me for my patience. Finally, a couple of days before Christmas, I checked the tracking, and saw that they had been delivered - and with a photo of the delivery at my front door. They had just come the day before, so I hadn’t missed much time, but Will had very helpfully stashed the boxes in his car trunk when he saw them, thinking they might be Christmas presents I didn’t want the kids to see. At that point, there was no way they were going to get delivered before Christmas, so I decided not to worry about them until after the Christmas Day worship service.
I know there is grace. I know I’m not alone in late cards. And based on comments I’ve seen about how people just aren’t getting cards done this year, as well as the much smaller display of cards on my wall, this confirms what many have noticed - we’re all pretty tapped out. None of us entered 2022 with a full tank, but the expectations of being fully up to speed and then some haven’t changed.
Grace upon grace for all of us, for the things left undone. If we, ourselves, are feeling a bit undone, why should we try to keep it all together for appearances?
I still decided to send my cards. On Christmas Day, I began to address them, and realized what a prayer practice this has become for me. I may not write individual letters or notes, but just writing your names and addresses invites me into prayer and appreciation for each of you. That’s why, whether I get them out in November or January or… whenever… it’s a gift for me to be able to do them.
In worship on Christmas morning, we had an opportunity to write prayers - on paper and on Facebook - with the invitation to carry at least one other specific prayer with us this week. That means that each of us who wrote a prayer knows that someone else is praying specifically for them, and for the prayers offered. It’s been a gift for me to have some of these prayers to carry - some specific, and some more general. There are many prayers for peace, and for God’s direction in the new year.
As we begin another rotation around the sun, as dictated by our calendar, I pray for peace, and for God’s direction, for all of us. I pray that we can be more gentle with ourselves and with each other. And I pray that we will continue to discover, grow into, and renew practices of prayer for the world, our community, and those we love.
Grace, peace, and prayers,