Our annual Christmas card is the highlight of my holiday season! I spend weeks… if not, months before… finding an amazing photographer, selecting coordinating outfits, choosing just the right layout… And when it finally comes together, I cannot wait to mail them to all of our family and friends, near and far, just in time for Christmas.
In years past, we’ve sent over a hundred Christmas cards and received just as many. Having blogged in exchange for photo cards in previous years (2010 and 2011), we could afford to splurge on this many cards. Ours was a life richly blessed with extended family, a massive network of friends (and circles of friends), and, eventually, a support system wherever we moved. I would determine how many cards to order based on some estimation or other… and yet, I still seemed have a growing handful of leftovers year after year.
So this year, we sent (and received) far, far fewer cards… and that’s okay!
As I flipped through my address book… yes, one of my concession to the low-tech life… I retraced where some of these old relationships had drifted off. Several our relatives have pass away recently. There have been a few divorces. Some people have gone off the grid or gone into hiding. For the most part, there are just a lot of people with whom we are simply no longer friends.
There were no major blow-outs or philosophical differences… at least, not on our end of it. There were no hurt feelings or snubs. There isn’t even a single moment when I can pinpoint, “This was the end” or a neon sign telling me to, “Exit here”. There’s just… poof… nothing.
There was a time when I would have taken this harder, but this past year, I’ve learned to accept when things have run their course and how to let go gracefully. Clinging to what was, or how I expected it to be, has been an endless source of agitation and sadness for me in the past and for what?
Mourning never brought anyone back to me. No one has ever changed or been less judgmental or clingy or suddenly made me or my family a priority over their own.
There’s an anonymous quote that I’ve seen floating around the Internet that put the whole thing into perspective this way:
People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you figure out which one it is,
you will know what to do for each person.
Realizing that everyone in my path may have been put there for a reason, but not necessarily for a lifetime, has allowed me to live in the moments and appreciate the people who are in my life today. It’s freed me from the guilt or desperation of letting go of certain people. Most of all, it’s allowed me to see that lives move on and there can’t be any hard feelings about it. In other words, I can still find joy and common ground with other people, but there’s no expectation for anything deeper or more substantial.
A few months ago, I randomly remembered a friend’s birthday and made a point of calling her that day.We hadn’t spoken in months, but this was someone with whom I used to share everything. In spite of being miles apart, I’ve always thought we’d be the type of friends who could pick up like no time had passed. I could turn to her when things were at their worst and did. Perhaps I turned to her too often. Maybe I was too much drama for her. (Likely.) Maybe our relationship had become too one-sided. (One too many phone calls where I do all the whining. Yup!) Whatever it was… I could tell from the moment that she picked up that this is probably be going to be our last conversation. We kept things upbeat and cheerful, but I could sense the tension in her voice and how difficult it was to make small talk. There was some vague promises of calling again soon followed by silence… and that was it.
I’ve missed her so much before and even since our call, but I’m just happy I had a chance to say “good-bye” my dear friend who was there for me when I needed her the most.