Saturday, January 2, 2021

A Song for the Lifeboats



Holiday Cards looked a little different this year. Well, everything looked a little different this year. The cards ran the gamut. We received ‘Tis the weirdest season, 2020 Has Been Bananas, stay safe so that we can see eachother back in the jungle in 2021… We hope for a better year, and onewith the card-giver “distanced,” shouting “Merry Christmas!” through a megaphone. We all could use a laugh.


There were, of course, the Merry and Bright’s and the lovely Wishing You A Happy Holiday Season. And a Thomas Kincaid scene with glittery snow, wreaths on the lampposts – an old-fashioned card that brings comfort depicting old world innocence. 


For the first time in forty-one years, I’d planned not to send a card this year.  Why, I’d thought? Let’s just phone in Christmas and just get on with 2021.


Then, I got Janet’s card. It was a cut-out heart with a ribbon to hang as an ornament. I reached out to her to tell her how beautiful her card was and the message Give Thanks. On the reverse side, Count your blessings every day.


“I’m not doing cards this year,” I’d written.


“I hope you do,” she’d replied, “[It’s] a time when connections are more important than ever.”


Not this year, I’d sighed to myself. I’m just not into it.


Each day new cards arrived.  More messages of hope and compassion. We’re still here! So much love this Christmas. We wish you Hope and Peace.  More humorous messages. A picture of the sleeping family dog - Wake me when it’s over!  A picture of a family wearing face masks – Home for the Holidays! Some were spiritual, God’s Blessings to You. Cards from families who had moved and “Burgeoning Broods.” An engagement. A marriage. A water color rendition of a cozy cottage, painted by my artist friend, Betsy. 


And, of course, the holiday letters. Two wrote of many challenges they’d had this past year. “It definitely has been a time to reflect on what is important in life.” From another, after having survived Covid: “At least I have antibodies now. Useful given how far down the list I am for the vaccine, but happy to wait…”


A thick white envelope arrived mid-December from someone who had been on our list since our now thirty-one-year-old was in pre-school. Inside was a neatly tied bundle of our Christmas cards along with a message that they have enjoyed saving their friends cards all these years and (obviously Covid cleaning had gone on here), now they are giving them back for us to enjoy. 


I’d paused, standing at the kitchen island and sifted through the years of our family Christmas cards.  Always the message, Peace on Earth.


Voltaire had once mused that “life is a shipwreck, but that we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.”

2020 has been a shipwreck.  


I reached for my phone and called my friend at Landis Stationery on Larchmont.  “Edie, what are the chances of getting a card done for New Years? Like fast.”


“What do you have in mind?”


“Something simple. I just need to sing.”




 “It’s a Voltaire thing,” I laughed. “You know? People have suffered, it’s been hard for so many, I just wasn’t in the holiday spirit.”


“Ahhh. But you are now.”


“Yeah, Edie. I don’t know, getting these cards, they lifted me up. We’re still here!”


The new year has arrived. And, with the ball drop in a very different Times Square this year, we reflect on what has been, still is, and look to the future. There is hope. It’s out there. 


Singing in the lifeboats to land on a newfound shore that is 2021.