Mailing Christmas cards to family and friends has been a 30-year habit. I love the tradition. I’m sad that fewer cards are sent to my home each year as social media greetings become more common. I like being a person who sends Christmas cards through the mail. But this year, I am choosing to do something different.
At the beginning of the year, I laid out several goals. Overall, I did well tackling my list and would say that I am improving my life. At least, that is how it looks through the lens of thankfulness. But two aspirations remain.
One has to do with being physically fit. Was this one on your list, too? For me, it was not a total bust, but I didn’t put in the consistent effort to crush that goal. Maybe you didn’t either, but it’s okay. We can revisit that one in the coming year and the rest of our lives because fitness is a journey, not a destination. I’m totally fine with 3 out of 5 stars on this one for now.
My other unfinished goal can still be completed by the end of the year. What is it? Simple; to write and send thank you cards. I am a big believer in sending handwritten notes of appreciation. I’ve written lots of them over the years. But this year, notes went unwritten while I focused on other things, and that realization nags at me now.
The practice of daily gratitude has made me calmer, happier, and more resilient this year. I include gratitude in my daily journal. I have thanked God for gifts in my life. But I have not personally thanked humans for their kindness to my family and me in a tangible and meaningful way nearly enough.
So, instead of Christmas cards, I will send thank you cards. Of course, I can still include a holiday message, and I will because I believe in the religious reason for the season. But my focus will be on thanking people that have been meaningful in my life, even if I put my message in a Christmas-themed card.
After everything humanity has endured recently, we all deserve appreciation for our good deeds. When someone notices your hard work, kind words, thoughtfulness, or smile, you are inspired to do more. Who wouldn’t love that? If we fuel kindness, we help it grow.
Have you reflected on all the people who have made a substantial impact on your life this year? Even if your year has been less than stellar, the list is probably longer than you think. Some of those people are nameless or hard to find, like the utility worker who restored our power after a storm or the essential workers who moved food and goods through the supply chain. Who do you appreciate that you can find? Start there.
Personally, I feel the effort of writing and mailing a handwritten note conveys the weight of my thanks best. However, sending an email, phone call, or text trumps doing nothing. Short and sweet is fine. There is no need for poetry or eloquence if that does not come naturally to you; just be sincere. Done is better than perfect here.
Thoughtfully completing “Write Thank You Notes” instead of just checking the box for “Send Christmas Cards” will help me reflect on how Jesus is present in the world for me through others. The experience of writing thank yous will put a bow on 365 days that were tumultuous, wonderful, trying, and inspiring all at the same time. It is a satisfying ending to one year and a hopeful beginning for the next.