A choice part of Christmas is the slowing down and the taking of time to think about friends, family, and our comfortable life.  

Yet, the holiday cards start arriving soon after Thanksgiving, well before our family has found the contemplative or even appreciative spirit.  For years, we would hurriedly rip open the cards along with the bills and come-ons that populated the daily mail. We would read the greetings, quick notes, and multi-page sagas en route to the chopping board with the dinner onions. The first-in, first-out rule controlled our mail box with efficiency.

Then we stopped.  Instead of opening mail that had the obvious look of a holiday card as it came in, we started stacking the Christmas mail together. 

Yesterday night we took our last eggnog to the living room, turned on the 2006 Christmas tree lights for the final time, re-toasted the season, unsealed the envelopes, and leisurely read the messages sent our way.  We sat together, commenting on card aesthetics and on the changes in lives recorded in the notes. We enjoyed the colored lights in our living room, reminisced about the fun and closeness of the past few weeks, and talked about the changes and the constancy told to us.

These gifts from friends were a fine way to wrap up Christmas. 

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