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Sharon Randall: The Christmas letter

By Sharon Randall

There was a time in my life when I sent Christmas cards. Real ones, signed and addressed by my own hand and stamped with a genuine U.S. postage stamp. Looking back on it, it seems like a long time ago.

Every year, in November, I’d choose a card with a scene that, for me, conveyed clearly the meaning of Christmas. Then I’d order it in bulk, depending on how many I wanted to send.

I wanted to send lots. More every year. While I waited for the cards to arrive, I’d compose a letter to enclose. It would be very clever, or so I thought, bringing anyone who might be interested (or not) up to date on my life and those of my children, our latest challenges and accomplishments and such.

If I focused a bit more on achievements than on setbacks, what can I say? I’m a mother.

It was always a pretty good letter, or so I thought. Not much different from the Christmas letters I received in return from friends who wrote in glowing terms about their lives and travels and accomplishments, as well as those of their offspring.

I’d address each envelope, picturing in my mind the streets and homes and lives of each recipient, then place a stamp, just so, and drop it in the mail.

I loved it. I especially loved getting cards in return.

As my kids grew older and finished college, married and pursued their various careers, our lives became a bit more complicated to report.

So my Christmas letter grew longer with each passing year.

But it wasn’t the length of the letter than gave me pause. It was the number of recipients. I cared, I assure you, about each of them. But at some point? I just knew too many people.

One of the gifts that comes with a long life is a treasure chest filled with a great many good friends … including some you may never have met.

It’s one of my most cherished blessings. Life may not have brought me a wealth of riches. But it has brought me, hallelujah, a wealth of friends.

Unfortunately, I won’t live long enough to address (let alone, to afford the postage for) that many cards. I’d love to do it. But it’s not going to happen.

There aren’t many perks to being a newspaper columnist. We get to say what we think or feel about some aspect of life. And in turn, you, the reader, get to say, if you like, what you think about what we said.

Given all the topics I could write about this week — politics, sports or sexual harassment — I’m going to write, just for you, my Christmas letter:

Dear Friend,

It has been quite a year in my life, as I’m sure it has been in yours. My family and I, thanks be to God, are happy and well. I pray you and yours are, too.

In the past year, we got older, suffered a few setbacks and enjoyed our share of gains.

We spent some great times together and with others we love. What else is living for?

It has been over a year since I lost my younger brother. I miss him especially this Christmas. No one lives for long without losing a loved one, but the one who is lost is irreplaceable. If you are missing someone you love, my heart goes out to you.

Perhaps you wonder, as I often do at Christmas, if this might be our last year on Earth? If it is, did we live it well? Who knows? Better to ask: How will we choose to live the year ahead, if we are blessed to live it?

I can’t answer that for you. I can barely answer it for me. But I’d love to hear your answer. For now, I just want to say this: You and your friendship mean so much to me. Here’s wishing you and yours a blessed Christmas

P.S. If for any reason you can’t send a Christmas card this year, feel free to e-send mine.

Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 777394, Henderson, NV 89077, or www.sharonrandall.com.)

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