As part of my nearly annual tradition for years now, I handmade a subset of my Christmas cards that I am sending out. This year, I made 16 for close friends and family and spent most of today baking and writing messages in them, getting them ready for either hand delivery or for mailing out.
As I sorted through all the different designs and laid them out to take photographs of them, it suddenly hit me that it had been many years since I first made a handmade card for Ed. It had been years since I had sent him any Christmas card. And the piercing memory of coming back to the house and going through the belongings in his desk after his death in July 2013 hit me: the moment when I opened his second desk drawer to find several years’ worth of my handwritten and handmade cards I’d given to him, neatly stacked in a short, single pile. I remember immediately tearing up, reading each message I wrote him one by one. And in a slight fit of rage, I tore all of them up and threw them into the recycling bin. Maybe I should have kept them. Maybe I should have preserved them to remember what I used to write to my Ed with pen and paper. But my emotions got the best of me and they’re now all gone.
He only kept my cards. He kept them because he knew I wanted him to. He actually listened to what I said. Each Christmas, it’s hard to forget how much Ed loved Christmas — all the lights, the trees, the smell of Christmas cooking and baking, the idea of togetherness in even a dysfunctional family. He isn’t here with me anymore, but each Christmas, I think of him constantly, both fondly and sadly, and hope that he is happier in a better and more peaceful place, celebrating Christmas in his own way somewhere above us.