About a month ago, just before Halloween, I went to the post office to post a small bubble envelope with a few Halloween things in it for my little nephew who lives in Newfoundland.
“Hi, how ya doin’? I said to John, the man working the cash.
“I’m good, how are you?” He smiled.
“Not too bad, hangin’ in there. How’s the old ticker?” I asked.
“I’m still standing,” he said with a chuckle.
John had had heart surgery the year before and was out of commission for a while, but he was back to work and doing just fine.
“How’s it going with you? How’s the back doing?”
“Oh, I can’t complain, some days good, some days bad. It is what it is, right?” I said.
“Yeah, all we can do is keep going the best we know how.” He had accepted his fate just as I had accepted mine.
I handed him my package. “Regular post, John.”
He entered the information in the computer. “That’ll be $18.05.”
He looked up at me, not surprised by my reaction.
“It went up again. You haven’t sent a package in a while, huh?”
“No, the last time I sent a package back home was last Christmas.”
“It went up a lot this time. It’s $1.00 for a stamp now, $1.13 with tax.”
“Wow, I don’t think I’ll be sending any packages home this year. That costs more than what is in the bag.” I got out my bank card and finished the sale.
John snickered. “You say than every year.”
“Yah, I know, but this year, I dunno. Maybe I won’t send Christmas cards either. I’m always short on cash since I stopped working.”
He gave me the receipt. “It’s not easy for a lot of people, the way things are going these days. But, you know, you can’t give up sending Christmas cards, that’s part of our religion. I see people coming in here all the time sending their cards for Diwali, Kwanzaa, and Hanukah, not too many sending Christmas cards. If you don’t send Christmas cards, you’re not spreading the Word of God, you’re not keeping your religion. Think about it. The next thing you know Christianity will disappear. It’s up to Christians to keep Christmas.”
I looked at him, dumbfounded at his profound words. “I never thought about it that way before,” I managed to say. “Thanks, John.”
He smiled and nodded. I left the store with a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat. God works in mysterious ways.
The more I thought about it, the more sense it made. I don’t do anything else to spread the Word, to keep my religion. I might go to church once a month, and my home church does receive a monthly donation, but, other than that, there’s nothing else.
Every year since as far back as I can remember I have sent Christmas cards and have added to the list year after year. Last year, I sent out about 75 cards and never once thought about it as “spreading the word.” I was doing it because it was just something I did as a part of Christmas, never really thinking about it. It was what I did to wish all my friends and relatives a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. It’s funny how something can become so tedious that its meaning is forgotten. And when I told John I wasn’t going to send any cards, something else came into play, the Spirit of God if you will, and I was given a new perspective.
So every week thereafter I bought a package of stamps and last week I bought some Christmas cards. Sparkling lights, shiny tinsel, and colored bells fill my tiny home, and today, I will be spreading the Word of God by getting my cards ready for mailing.
The world's first commercially produced Christmas card, designed by John Callcott Horsley for Henry Cole in 1843.
I have noticed that in recent years the number of people who send a card back has diminished, not that I expect a card back; I’m wondering maybe others need a new perspective as well. So I’m going to print this little story and put it in all the cards and hope that all my relatives and friends find a new perspective, too.