It’s that time of the year when we do things that we wouldn’t normally do, think things that we wouldn’t normally think, and warm up to things that normally wouldn’t move the needle of our emotions as they brush past us during our slice of daily experience. In an effort to keep this from trending into the too-sappy-for-comfort-zone, it’s also the time of the year when some people drink eggnog. (Sorry if that thought just made your tongue ripple as if it’s trying to expel a repulsive taste memory.)

I haven’t rambled on a Saturday Morning in a few weeks; I’ve been focused on projects involving the final edits and release of the 3rd book in the Motivation Series, Hello… Is This On? It’s during these final stages that I struggle most to stay on point and stay on schedule with peripheral things. Hopefully, in time, I’ll be able to focus through the distraction of a new book release. For now, I get way too caught up in the hurry-up-and-wait stages. Now that it’s complete, I’ll try to get back to rambling on a weekly basis once again.

With that in mind, let’s ramble back to our current position on the yearly calendar. It’s closeout time, folks. The days of shopping lists, wrapping paper, heart-warming music, office parties, and rearranging the living room to accommodate a tree. (I’m sure trees will be another topic for another Saturday morning.)

This morning, I’d like to tell you the tale of two Christmas Cards. Although they came from different parts of the country, both arrived in the mailbox on the same day. They are the same size, about the same thickness, and required the same postage. That’s where the similarity ends.

One card was addressed to us, The Combs family. That’s me and Kathy, if you’re counting heads. The return address and postmark gave away the source and, as you’ll see in a minute, just pulling this card from the mailbox brightened my spirit. The other card was addressed to someone who lived at this address previously. The return address and postmark told me that it came from someone that lived nearly 1000 miles away, who neither of us have ever known. We’ve lived here for 3 Christmases now and I’ve graciously returned the card (probably not the same one) to the sender twice. We’re still on the list.

If I said that the card from the unknown sender failed to stir emotion, I’d be overlooking the memory that pulling it from the mailbox sparked. I thought of how I’d sent it back in December of 2015 to let them know that their target recipient had moved to a new location and that we were unaware of the new address. I sent it back last year (Dec. 2016) with a similar message, but part of me wanted to open it to see if they had scribbled a personal message of endearment or possibly included $50 in cash. FTR, I didn’t. This year, the envelope has been shuffled back and forth from kitchen counter to desktop, because I’m actually indecisive. Before you judge, consider that I’ve immediately returned it during the two previous seasons of joy and we’re still on the list. It doesn’t seem that updating the list is something this sender actually does.

Maybe it’s time to embrace the sentiment. Maybe it’s time to find out what’s inside. Maybe I should put them on our list and ask them to at least update our name on theirs. Maybe we should actually start a Christmas Card list. Maybe I’ll crowdsource it on FaceSpace and ask for advice.

Although I look forward to the card that I’m about to expound upon, I’ve never been big on Christmas Cards. I don’t know how far back this goes, but I know it goes back more than a few years. Maybe it grew out of my “only child” status, but I’ve just never been one to embrace the clutter. I’ve never had a list that I can remember, nor have I ever felt overwhelmingly compelled to send them out.

I’ve been on the receiving end a few times through the years, but I’ve never reached the card-a-day-keeps-the-spirits-bright status (or the need). Honestly, the only card that stands out from past memory came during the years that I worked in management for a cutting edge technology superstore. The company CEO would send out a picture of his family to everyone each Christmas. I never understood why anyone that I didn’t really know as a close, longtime friend or family member would think that I wanted a picture of them, their wife, kids, and family dog for Christmas. I probably just have a defective sentiment gene.

– shakes my head –

There was a second card in the mailbox earlier this week. It came from one of my wife’s personal friends. She and her husband live a little over an hour away and we don’t see them nearly as often as we used to. They’re wonderful people to spend time with and we both miss them. I’m secretly hoping that maybe we can work out a lunch or dinner together during our travels between Christmas and New Year’s.

This friend is incredibly talented in an artsy way. She makes jewelry and designs clothing. She used to make some beautifully intricate adornments during the time when she and my wife were a part of the same belly dance tribe. She draws and professionaly prints her own one of a kind cards each year at Christmas and at Halloween.

My wife still has last year’s Christmas card sitting on her desk, here in the shared Splinter In The Mind’s Eye production office. The last two Halloween cards are pinned to the wall above her desk. Time, thought, care, and feeling went into producing each card. They tell a story. They share a part of the person who graciously included us on the list. They bring back a memory of time spent together and the desire to find a way to do it again when the opportunity presents. This is a card we look forward to opening each year.

‘Tis the season… while you’re busy checking the obligations off of your Make Merry and Bright list, think of someone who makes your life merry and bright throughout the year. Step outside the box and let them know that they’re appreciated on a different level. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just personal.

Quick Links to Mark’s Books on Amazon:

Mark D. Combs
Don’t Forget Your Cape
Mark D. Combs
Mark D. Combs

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