‘They’re going on our Christmas card list.’ Something we often say in jest about someone who’s been kind or helpful (but not taken literally, it has to be said).
It’s that time of year, isn’t it? Who’s getting a card and who isn’t.
Every year it’s the same. They’ll get a card; they’re having a letter as well; one more year for them; and no… take them off… or maybe not.
The ‘one more year’ group has been populated by the same people for several years now. Remaining there in the hope we might hear from them – which applies to others, of course. And come this Christmas we probably won’t have heard anything but we’ll still send one all the same. It may be that applies to those who send to us too.
As for the ‘no’ group – the worry of wondering if they will be offended is, in reality, more a case of will they even notice? It may be the same for them… are we offended? No. Disappointed – well, yes probably. But such is the transitional nature of friendships and contacts.
And then there’s the ones who come off the list for other reasons. This year’s been a bad one for that. No cards anymore to or from John, Gwen, Diane, Barry, Mark. Holes left not just in a string of cards but in our lives. There may be another one before Christmas as well. Christmas can be a painful time.
We think also of those for whom Christmas will be different and difficult: Keith, Grace, Helen, Andrew and many others who’s loved one will not be present.
On another tack, a sort of parallel ‘taking off the list’: I heard recently about a multi-parish, rural group of churches (not ours, I hasten add) where it had been decided there would only be one service on Christmas morning because very few came to the other churches. Now, I’m as concerned about clergy wellbeing as anyone – I see the impact of such a time as this and such a life as this in many. But no matter what anyone says, we’re not in this for the numbers – it’s the ones and the twos for whom Christmas is a solitary time who really matter.
The ones for whom Christmas is different and difficult and painful.
The ones who are not on the Christmas card list.
The ones who find themselves on the fringes of society – just like the people Jesus reached out to.
Details of my books can be found at richardfrostauthor.com