On Wednesday at the front desk of our lobby, we received a hand-delivered letter to the editor, handwritten on yellow, lined paper, from Maris A. Giafaglione of Leesburg.
Reading it, the words gave us reason to pause.
Of the rushing-around we do all year, it is decidedly worse at Christmastime. Trying to cram extra activities into the work day, running to this store or that during the lunch hour, heading to the mall and fighting traffic all the way after work, fretting whether an online order will arrive in time. Invitations and events pile up, become obligations more than celebrations.
All of this isn’t new. The Christmas holiday, which has grown from a day to a month to a season that stretches nearly to Halloween, has been stressful to one degree or another for decades. In our high-tech society with unfettered mobility, however, the choices and pressures mount to even greater degrees than those faced by our parents and grandparents.
In trying desperately not to miss anything, we too often overlook everything that is wonderful and meaningful about the season we celebrate.
And that is why Mrs. Giafaglione’s letter struck home. The opportunity to stop and actually take in the magic and meaning of the season is still there, if only we’ll slow down enough to embrace it. These were her thoughts, captured in ink on paper:
“A few weeks ago, I began receiving Christmas cards and among the first was one from my dear friend of 60 years. Tucked inside was a four-page letter in her lovely longhand on pretty blue stationery.
“Many miles separate us. We have visited each other on a few occasions, but our Christmas letter is how we have kept in touch. Over the years, we have shared much sadness and joy. We tried emailing each other, but it just wasn’t the same.
“So, I make myself a cup of tea and sit down to read my friend’s letter. This is to me just as important a part of my Christmas season as any trip to the mall or any other last-minute frenzied activity that seems to be the norm for the last few weeks before Christmas.
“Because my husband was in the military, we moved a lot and made friends everywhere. To this day, I look forward to hearing from them at this time of year. I have heard that letter writing is a dying form of communication. How sad is that!
“Now, with pen in hand, my thoughts reach back over the events of the past year so that I can write my own Christmas letter. But this I know — no email or text message can compare with a four-page, handwritten letter from a dear friend. Merry Christmas to all my dear friends — both near and far.”
Thank you for sharing that, Mrs. Giafaglione. It’s a lesson we’d all do well to take to heart.