Wednesday, 23 June 2021
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The Year of Different - and the power of one Christmas card Annie Spratt/Unsplash

The Year of Different - and the power of one Christmas card

A personal story

The tradition (if you can call it that after a couple of years) started when several things changed for Jenn and me. Through a series of circumstances over the course of a few years, we lost close connection with a number of families.

Honestly, it was just one—or many—of those things. At one point we were involved in several groups and activities, but changes in our life pulled us away and into new ones.

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Our lost connections weren’t about rifts or animosity. It’s just that as we moved toward new opportunities, we had to do some starting over in the relationship realm. There was good news in that as we connected with new people, we formed bonds which are extremely strong today.

But during these transitions, there was that one year, The Year of Different. The year the tradition began. Two years ago, if my fading memory is correct. In that Christmas season—The Year of Different--we sent out our normal Christmas cards. But—though we should not have been surprised—we didn’t receive many of the Christmas cards we expected. 

Now, I know one should never “expect” anything from anyone. And like I said, the “missing” Christmas cards were mostly about losing connection with people we regularly ran into through group activities. I doubt there was animosity in our being “left out.” It’s just that as these people made their lists, we didn’t “qualify” anymore. We were no longer “there” for the there for which they were normally there.

No worries, right?

One day, just after Thanksgiving in The Year of Different, Jenn picked up a stack of mail, looking for cards which had not come. There were tears as she thought of those cards missing. But . . . as she thumbed through, she noticed a Christmas card from a pregnancy help center. It was from California, or Ohio, or Florida—I don’t remember. To be honest, we’d received these cards for years. Through speaking engagements, friendships formed at conferences, a gift we sent—who knows? Each year, we’d find dozens of these Christmas cards in our mail.

To be honest, before The Year of Different, we’d look at cards from the pregnancy help community, perhaps say, “Oh, that’s the center where . . .” and, because there just wasn’t room, the card wound up in the trash. Just being transparent, that’s what happened. But not in The Year of Different.

Jenn took that card, found some tape and “poof,” it was over our door in the entrance to our kitchen.

The next day, there were two or three cards. Tape, attachment, doorway. More came. More tape, more cards to see as we entered and hung out in the kitchen.

Before we realized it, there were Christmas cards from pregnancy help organizations all over not just that doorway, but another. Our home was filling with Christmas cards. Friends, it was glorious.

We no longer fretted over relationships lost but smiled as we thought of relationships built over five, 10, or more years. Each card was of a memory, of a someone, somewhere, who remembered us.

Honesty compels us to admit that most of these cards came because of an “official” connection. We gave a gift. Or somehow, we made our way to the mailing list. I get it. But each of those cards meant a lot to us.

That year—The Year of Different--we were reminded that we have a tribe, a group of people with whom we identify. People we believe in. People with stories. With victories, defeats, struggles and triumphs.

Each year since, we’ve posted these cards on our doors as a reminder of those with whom we sense a powerful connection. “These are our people,” Jenn told me. And she’s right. We’re not a perfect people, but if ever there was a bunch who cared and loved with the heart of Jesus, it’s the people behind those Christmas cards, cards we almost overlooked.

This season, almost all of our organizations will send out Christmas cards. These cards will go to anyone who “qualifies”—whether through their giving or simply their presence on the right list.  Our ministries and organizations send these cards for so many good reasons. We send them to maintain connection, to remind people we are still here and in need of support, to remain relevant during a hectic season.

For some of our recipients however, our cards accomplish so much more. For someone in need of a pick-me-up, these cards say, “We thought of you. You matter. You’re part of the tribe.” 

Tweet This: For someone in need of a pick-me-up, our Christmas cards say, “We thought of you. You matter. You’re part of the tribe.”

Many may place our card in the shredder just moments after opening. We will be a passing thought—albeit a positive one.

Yet, for that one we may not know, our Christmas card can make all the difference in 2020, which to all of us is certainly a Year of Different. 

It did for us. We’ve got the tape and the doorways to prove it. 

Kirk Walden

Kirk Walden is a senior writer with Pregnancy Help News, an Advancement Specialist with Heartbeat International and author of The Wall. For banquet speaking engagements, contact Gloria Leyda at Ambassador Speakers Bureau. His new Faith Revolution Podcast is online at www.kirkwalden.com

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