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12/21/2005: "Season's Greetings"

It is solstice. 7:30 A.M. Dark and quiet on the street outside.
At the post office over the last days the pre-Christmas tension increases daily as I look forward to the light doing soon. I wait in line to mail some tapes and DVDs at the P.O. where we get our mail. As yet another customer asks for tape to close a parcel, I wonder what is in all the envelopes and boxes in the piles behind the counter and in the hands of other people in line. I’m feeling slightly grinchy as I do when the generic letters or cards documenting peoples’ lives come in the mail. At least the cards and letters do come in the mail and don’t add another e-mail to delete, file or deal with later.

Besides the letters, we now have a row of photo cards among the holiday greetings we put up every season. There are few words like “Peace” and “Joy” on these cards and an image of a single child. The kids look alone and almost stoic. Orphans in front of the camera. The family is not in the frame. There is no visual sense these solitary children have parents. I pause, stare at the faces. I can almost hear my friends, in their parental voices asking their offspring to stand still, to stand somewhere so they can snap a photo. Maybe there is a discussion about hair, clothing, maybe some stress, maybe not. I grinch, but I’m content too, to hear from friends and families knowing their lives are filled and appreciating that we are still in touch despite the chaos and details of our lives. Then I check my e-mail and there is one from a friend, with one child. In a p.s. he asks for my spouse’s Spencer’s last name (a common request for invites and cards since Frankenstein kind of overshadows Severson) so he can correctly address the holiday card he and his wife are sending. I look forward to seeing what their daughter looks like this year, where she will be posed and I suspect I won't see the parents on the card.