Can you remember when everyone sent out Christmas cards, maybe as many as a hundred? Since I grew up in a military family and moved often, my mother was one of those who sent dozens and dozens of cards. She wrote a family-news-in-a-nutshell note, by hand, for every single one of her friends. Postage was cheap, and she cherished her friendships across the miles, looking forward to hearing the latest about them.
As the price of a stamp increased, and more women added full-time jobs to busy schedules, Christmas card exchanges declined. Sure, we have the internet with all its social media. We can connect daily with old friends if we wish, but there is something about holding a handwritten note in your hand, being able to place it in a drawer or a box, and returning to it so you can hold it in your hand once again.
Christmas cards have always been a means of sharing the good will of the season and giving distant friends a quick sketch of how the year has gone, a way of catching up. However, the most precious of written communications are those that arrive as a surprise. This truth filled up my heart the year I attended a spiritual retreat. The organizers of the retreat asked friends and family, without my knowledge, to send a letter to me, in care of their address. Near the end of the retreat, they handed out the letters, and each person found a space of privacy to read them.
I had just spent two days immersed in Bible study, discussions, and prayer. To receive those gifts of love from those close to me--and some not so close--overwhelmed me. I could barely read the words of encouragement through my tears. When I got home, I placed those cards and letters in a basket, and I have them to this day, adding additional notes of encouraging words as I've received them.
When I get weary or sad, I return to that basket and read as many kind messages as my heart needs. God's love for me poured out through the words of others.
As writers, we pen blogs, novels, news articles, etc. Writing becomes a beloved business. The gift God has given us can also be used as a means to love others. On most Sundays, I write a note to friends, sons, grandchildren, or Mom. Usually nothing deep, but the fact that I take the time to ask about their activities and praise their accomplishments lets them know I love them. My words encourage them, and the grandchildren are learning to reciprocate! When they visit, they check the "special" drawer and see that Nona has kept all their letters and crayon masterpieces.
As my words bring smiles to loved ones' faces and warmth to their hearts, God's approval inspires me to persist in what has become a ministry.
The gift of encouraging words. A joyful investment in time and creativity. The returns are priceless!
Linda Sammaritan writes realistic fiction, mostly for kids ages ten to fourteen. She is currently working on a middle grade trilogy, World Without Sound, based on her own experiences growing up with a deaf sister.
Linda had always figured she’d teach middle-graders until school authorities presented her with a retirement wheelchair at the overripe age of eighty-five. However, God changed those plans when He gave her a growing passion for writing fiction. In May of 2016, she blew goodbye kisses to her students and dedicated her work hours to learning the craft.
A wife, mother of three, grandmother to seven, Linda regales the youngest grandchildren with “Nona Stories,” tales of her childhood. Maybe one day those stories will be in picture books!
Where Linda can be found on the web: