I don’t really know what it is about it, but snail mail is such a love of mine. As I think I have mentioned before, I tend to be a person of the details. It’s the small, seemingly mundane things of life that continually draw my attention and cause me to pause. Of course, grander displays of life and beauty draw me in also – a newborn baby, snow capped volcanoes, an amazing sunset. But I have found that there is such joy and a true sustaining element that comes from noticing the beauty in the ordinary – and a letter in our mailbox is one of these joys for me.
Maybe it’s the stationary (which I love!). Maybe it’s taking the time to notice the choice of stamp in the corner (which I also love! Why anyone wouldn’t take the time to purchase all of the amazingly fun stamps from the post office and would instead just settle for the flag stamp is lost on me). Maybe it’s the anticipation of pulling our box open with the hope that just maybe there are words cloaked in love from a friend and not just more bills. Whatever it is, I love it all.
We spent two Christmas seasons here in Ecuador when we lived here before. We learned new Christmas carols and ate turkey with friends. We stung lights in our house and cut out snowflakes to paste on our windows while continuing to enjoy spring-like weather.
One of the only Christmas cards that we received in the mail during those years was from another young family from our home church. We weren’t particularly close to this family. Friendly, for sure, but it wasn’t like we would flock to sit next to each other at potlucks or anything. So, I was somewhat surprised to open up our mailbox and be greeted by the faces of their small, sweet boys and kind words of well wishes for the Christmas season and into the new year.
However, as I hung their Christmas card up and looked at it day after day, the intention and feeling behind it became more and more clear. The woman from this family was from Europe. Married to an American, she had spent many years in the US and they were happily raising their family in Omaha.
But she knew. She knew in a way that few other people in our life knew. She knew what a crazy mix of emotions it is to be so far from “home” during this time of year so filled with expectations and anticipation. She knew what it was to enjoy new traditions and learn new ways of celebrating while at the same time longing for the familiar and comfortable. She knew what is was to be eating delicious meals and enjoying sweets that only come out this time of year but also be craving the tastes and smells that speak of Christmas from your childhood memories. She knew what is was to sing, “Christ the Savior is born” in a tongue that was not native to her and experience God’s love for the entire world in a new way while also wishing she could close the hymnal and know all the words by heart. She knew.
And she knew that little encouragement on a piece of 4×6 card stock could go a long way.
We moved back to Chicago and come December our mailbox started to fill up with many Christmas cards yet again from friends both near and far. Reminders of another year of life lived and relationships shared. As I took each one and hung it up on the frame of our dinning room windows, I often thought back to that card we received during our first Christmas in Quito, grateful for the $1 spent on an international stamp and the few moments of thoughtfulness poured into a simple act.
So, here is my plea. I want your Christmas card again this year! And so do your other friends that find themselves away from “home” this season – whatever that means. So pick up an international stamp while you are waiting in line at the post office and drop it in the box. Easy peasey. Just like if we still lived on Sawyer Ave in Chicago. I know for me, knowing that while we might be out of sight, we are not out of mind, goes a long way in feeling supported and cared for – especially in this season.
Your card probably won’t make it here by December 25th. But even if it isn’t until April that I am hanging it up in our home, I will do so with such gratitude for the gift of ordinary beauty and for friends both near and far.
Just in case you want it! Our mailing address here in Quito is:
You can send a card to my mom who is flying down to be with us on Christmas Day! Let me know if you would like her address and I will get it to you!