in the u.s., we have just celebrated thanksgiving day. when my wife and i returned from spending time with family in the northern part of the state for thanksgiving, we began our weeklong preparation of our home for advent and christmas. in the course of our decorating we talked about whether to send christmas cards this year. as we talked, we considered the expense--maybe we should make a charitable donation with the money we would spend on cards; we considered whether we send them out of obligation to folks with whom we never communicate any other time of the year--maybe these are acquaintances that wouldn't even notice that we didn't send them a card; we considered why we send cards at all--maybe we're not all that sincere in the holiday wishes that we express on our cards.
our final decision was to send cards to a smaller list of family and friends this year. there are several friends to whom we send cards that have had quite an impact on our lives, yet we don't stay in touch except at this season. how is it that others who have been huge influences for good in my life are out of mind except when i sit down to write them christmas notes? reflecting on this caused me to think of the multitude of teachers, co-workers, and friends who have helped each of us in our journey. there is no way that any of us could have frequent communications with everyone who has been an important part of some stage in our lives; there simply aren't enough hours in the day. accepting that doesn't negate our gratitude for those who have helped us in so many ways, but i am forced to acknowledge that sending cards to remind them, and me, of how our lives are intertwined helps us both keep those links of love and gratitude alive.
as i ruminate over my christmas card list and those distant, yet oh-so-important, helpers, i've determined to dedicate my advent posts to some of them: the man who was instrumental in my securing my first real job as an organist, the cousin-by-marriage who called me every christmas, the choir director who put up with my youthful follies when i first began working in a church, the older choir members who adopted my wife and me as part of their circle of friends. the list could go on, but this is where i'll begin next week.
my prayer for each of us today and throughout advent is that we'll extend thanksgiving through the season, giving thanks for all those who have been there when we needed them and helped mold us into the persons that we've become. shalom.