My Good Friend the Christmas Card Address List

Growing Up Austin

My Christmas Card Address List is like a friend I’ve known a while that changes over time and who tells me when that dress doesn’t really fit anymore, in case I hadn’t noticed.

Here is how our relationship has evolved…

– Before Marraige/Kids – What list? What cards? Christmas cards are a quaint and old-fashioned tradition for old people.

– Marriage – Well, I’m not too old, but I like being married and it is fun to send cards, so I’ll try it out.

– Kids – OK, now I’m on my way to getting old. And I get it. Since I’m trying to manage these little kids running around, I don’t have time to visit with friends for hours at a time at a long afternoon happy hour. Except for my closest friends, the best I can do is remember how many kids they have (maybe their names) and if they still live in town or not. It’s nice to remember at least that much. It is nice to see couples move into nice houses and add to their families with brand new babies.

– Kids Plus – This year, my relationship with my Christmas Card Address List took a turn and I feel older. I deleted names, and not just because we had lost touch, but because they had died, and not all of them were elderly grandparents who had lived a long and full life. Do you know how death feels different depending on the age of the person who died? For a child, it is always the greatest tragedy. For someone in their twenties, it is heart breaking. For someone in their thirties, it is unexpected. For someone in their forties, well, it isn’t that unusual anymore. I had one friend die who was born without functioning kidneys and was never expected to live to be a grown man. I had another friend die who was strong and healthy, but died within a week of discovering an advanced brain tumor. And besides the deaths, there was cancer, a stroke and a serious car accident that led to an amputated leg. I feel very mortal this year. The Christmas Card Address List showed this to me, in simple spreadsheet form, in case I hadn’t noticed.