Dear Van, Kit, Elliott and Lizzie:
(As I promised last week, the following resumes my Christmas letter to the four of you. I hope you find it useful In forming your own thoughts about this special holiday).
I’ve dwelled on family. Another joyful part of Christmas is friendship. When you are invited to parties, go and have fun. Relationships with friends give life a special dimension. As family connections sometimes prove troublesome for known and unknown reasons, relationships between friends often are less complicated and provide a cushion when family ties fray temporarily.
The Christmas spirit draws friends, neighbors, schoolmates and others who may not have a family unit with which to gather. It calls for sharing your home and good cheer with others. Being alone amid the joy and merriment of a widely celebrated holiday is difficult.
As you grow older, you too will experience how quickly Christmas comes and goes after so much preparation and excitement. Retain the memories.
Know that life’s good and bad moments pass at the same speed. Savor the moment. Relish the joy.
And, yes, feel and share the love.
Nana and Paps will be part of your memories after they no longer are around. Feel buoyed by the love they showed you, even at the rare times they said no.
When growing up, your mothers, Kate and Bess, loved the goodness of Christmas now shared with you, their children. They brought Nana and Paps so much joy in their absolute enjoyment of this festive holiday. I still recall, Elliott and Lizzie, when your mother performed the role of Mary in a live nativity on the grounds of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Easton.
Nana and I beamed with pride at daughter Bess’ performance. You will do the same when your children perform in a play.
Merry Christmas, grandsons and granddaughters. Your real gifts are not the ones under the tree wrapped neatly and colorfully, ordered so easily these days on the Internet. Instead, the sense of family and heartfelt love are the unseen gifts—and they last a lifetime.
Amazon doesn’t sell the essence of family, the value of friendship.
This time of merriment and fellowship marks no other holiday. It’s a time to thank God for all of our blessings. It’s a time of hope for a peaceful future.
For me, you make Christmas so very special.
The glow of Christmas is brighter because of you. The sounds and colors of this festive occasion touch my soul, as do you.
Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland. Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer. In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.