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The Christmas Card

by Rundy on December 11, 2009

This week I learned that my namesake died. It was in the obituaries in the newspaper. Grandpa’s older brother Gene died on Saturday, December 5th. He was 85. Gene was Grandpa’s most beloved brother, and faithful readers of this blog know I was called by his name for the last two years of Grandpa’s life.

Gene’s health had been failing for some time, and there was at least one point in the last year where it appeared that he was about to die before Grandpa. For Grandpa’s sake I was glad Gene held on because it meant Grandpa didn’t have the sadness of Gene’s death in his life.

On the subject of Grandpa . . . it is strange what unexpected things will appear to remind you of the past.

Earlier this week Grandma was digging through her old collection of Christmas cards, thinking that since she had collected so many unused cards over the years she ought to use them. Then, there in the midst of her cards, she found a small plain white envelope addressed in the familiar tight handwriting of Grandpa, to my uncle Kevin.

The card was old, at least more than 16 years old. It had never been sent. There wasn’t even a stamp. Inside the envelope was a small simple card. On the front was the pastoral painting of a red barn in winter. Inside Grandpa had written:

Dear Kevin –

Cards never seem to have the precise words to express what a person really thinks or feels on a Holiday season such as Christmas Time. So, [below were the printed words of the card:]

Wishing you a beautiful world
Through all the seasons of the year
Happy Holidays

[then he concluded in his own writing:]

With much love and unbounded hope for the future
Mom and Pop

I was astounded to see the card. Not because I didn’t know Grandpa felt such sentiments toward his children–for I know he did–but that he actually ever wrote such a thing in a Christmas card. Grandpa didn’t share those feelings–he kept them hidden away in his heart where it only came out in little glimpses if you were paying attention. And perhaps that was why I saw the card today . . . perhaps in the end he was embarrassed by what he had expressed and put the card away so nobody saw it, until today. Which is too bad, because I know Kevin would have understood, and appreciated, the quiet sentiment behind those words.

And he still will, because Grandma is going to give him that card this Christmas. It’s a little weird getting a card from a dead man, but still fitting. Our past deeds speak about us, even from beyond the grave.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Virginia December 15, 2009 at 10:04 pm

Happy to see your continued ponderings.

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