What aspect of preparing for Christmas do you like the most?
I come from a family of letter writers. As far back as I can remember, fat envelopes from my grandfather, painstakingly printed so that my pre-cursive self could read them, would arrive in the mail, or nearly illegible cards from my grandmother, these addressed inside to “Hi Darling!” or “Hi Doll!” because she was never certain which daughter or granddaughter she was addressing.
And at Christmas there were cards, many cards. Some were from Germany, from my Aunt and Uncle, stationed there with the Air Force, others from California, which was a far away place at the time. Many were from friends and family in New Jersey, or new friends and neighbors in Colorado. Some were random, some were filled with pictures. Some had long type-written letters, and some had no signatures at all. As a child I made the decision that if an envelope either mentioned my name, or was addressed to my mother “and family” I was allowed to open it.
With each card came the ritual of taping them to the back of the front door. First, there would be the early arrival, from the one friend who actually knew how to organize. It would sit at the top of the door looking lonely, and a little forlorn. Then, slowly at first, but speeding up as the month progressed, more would show up, and the door would fill.
And of course, each day the house would have more and more Christmas – the mantel, the lights on the window, the small candles here and there as we followed the family tradition learned from my grandmother, of bringing Christmas through the house.
It was the cards then, and it is Christmas cards now, that really are the essence of preparation though. These days I write as many as I receive, and both the sending and the reading are parts of my Christmas preparation. It’s as if the act of putting pen to paper transports me from the mundane to the magical, as much as it does when fiction is involved.