Thanksgiving put me in a festive mood, and I elected to decorate the house and yard for Christmas earlier than usual. First, I hung the outside lights across the front porch railing and built the lighted sleigh that graces our drive. Then my attention turned to the tree and its lights and ornaments. Finally, I brought up the six storage bins of decorations from the basement for my wife to properly “dress the house” for the holidays. What fun!!
Having completed the major tasks, my attention turned to writing Christmas cards and a brief holiday message for our dear friends. As I reviewed the list of those to whom I send cards each year, my heart skipped a beat when I came across the name of a close friend who had passed away during the year. Somehow, it seemed completely inappropriate to send the typical “holly-jolly” Christmas card to his widow. I really was at a loss as to what to do.
While speaking later that day with a mutual friend, I asked if she planned to send a card. Her answer surprised me. She had already sent her traditional gift of a Hallmark (train) ornament with a note saying that she hoped our friend’s love for trains would be a memory carried forth by her grandchildren. Wow!
As we talked, we shared fond memories and more than a few laughs. It was good therapy for us both, for which I was most thankful. Guys typically don’t have a lot of close friends, and losing this one hurt a lot more than I was willing to admit. As our conversation came to an end, she lamented “Oh how I wish we could go back to those days…” Yeah.
I wrote a heartfelt letter to my friend’s widow acknowledging her loss while revisiting past adventures with her husband. The stories were fun to share, and I was certain she would enjoy hearing them. I included a note of inspiration and the hope that the new year would be a better one for her, and mailed it in a plain envelope with a simple Christmas stamp.
Although “going back to those days” sounds desirable, we can’t. Life doesn’t allow us to do that. While we should never forget the past, we should embrace each day and our future with enthusiasm and gratitude and, above all else, appreciate what we have, not lament over what we’ve lost.