I gave up sending Christmas cards years ago. I tried for a long time but it came to feel too much like an obligation. Sending Christmas cards takes so much time and is hard on the budget. And for something that would probably get tossed when the Christmas décor came down? Nah, not worth it. Cards and stamps are not cheap!
I love getting Christmas cards, though, so if anyone sends me one, know that they don’t get tossed. I keep them and on years when I can keep track of them in the middle of moving from place to place, I keep them out, rotate them off and on and pray for each person or family who sends me one. This is not the point of this post but I did want to acknowledge all you do-gooders out there. Your efforts are not wasted on me. I know there was sacrifice involved. I wouldn’t be offended in the future, though, and I would actually applaud you if you chose chocolate for yourself instead of a stamp for me.
In November, I went to a weekend intensive for wives who have been betrayed due to sexual infidelity. It’s called Restore in case you’re interested. I recommend it, although I’ll be sad if this is what causes you to click away from my page. Not because I’m sad you’re leaving my blog, although I hope you’ll return to finish reading, I’m sad because you’re clicking over because you’ve been betrayed and you need this weekend like I did. I’m thankful, however, that it’s available for us.
The three-day intensive is set up such that we spend most of our time with a small group and a licensed therapist. Needless to say, because of the similar, unfortunate experiences and betrayal stories, we dove deep into the waters of relationship in a hurry. It’s so comforting to be among people who “get it”. Empathy plays a huge part in healing the wounds of betrayal. It doesn’t take away the pain but it is like someone wrapping you up in a soft, warm quilt that was handmade by your grandmother while you heal. I imagine my grandmother and all of her quilting buddies decades ago as they sat around the quilting table binding individual square pieces to the foundation that would make many into one. There are stories in that soft, warm quilt. Layers and layers and threads and threads. With each piercing of the needle, a beautiful masterpiece was created that would provide warmth and comfort for longer than they could have foreseen. They shared stories of joy, pain, and survival – and probably drank buckets of coffee or if they were in the south, sweet tea. The friendships I’ve made sitting around my “quilting table”, like those I imagine my quilting grandmother had, with other betrayed wives through my own betrayal experience has been such a blessing. It’s an odd sort of community; like being a part of the club you never wanted to be in. But that’s not the point of this post either. Pressing on…
One of the women in my Restore group recently sent me a Christmas card. It was a simple card. I can’t even tell you right now what it looked like. It’s pretty safe to say it was red. But the first thing I noticed was that it was only addressed to me. I am a “me” this year and not a “we”. This is a painful reality that will hopefully one day be rectified but for now, I’m a “me”. It felt validating and empowering to see only my name on that card. Seeing just my name on it brought me about of the familiar and shadow of my other identities that I have become so accustomed to. I felt seen – as Andrea. This particular friend doesn’t know me any other way. So, while the card itself was not particularly memorable, the message inside was. She wrote, “It’s hard sometimes, but I’m okay. I hope you’re okay, too. Merry Christmas. Love and hugs, E.”
I won’t be sending out Christmas cards again this year. I don’t have it in me on a good year, much less a hard year. But I love getting them. Even this year, in the pain of my own “It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way” season, seeing the Christmas joy in others and knowing they thought of me helps me feel less alone.
But if I sent you a Christmas card, this is what I’d say:
*This post is dedicated to all my “it’s not supposed to be this way” friends. Thank you for continually inspiring me to keep breathing and for giving me grace when breathing is all I can do. I wouldn’t wish the wounds of betrayal on my worst enemy but God, in his divine mercy has chosen to bless us with the gift of friendship and a sweet sort of community I never could have imagined. This is a gift in the midst of pain that I am eternally grateful for. I cherish and adore you. Let’s keep walking each other home.