Ellijay, Georgia

The Address Book

By Melinda Holloway Hadden

It is that time of year again when I sit down to write my Christmas cards. I get out my address book and begin going through it to look up the addresses for my Christmas card recipients.  As I go through my address book, I choose a card carefully to fit the person I am sending it to.

As I flip through the pages to find the addresses, I realize I am flipping through my life in a simple little black book. I realize I don’t know what will happen to my kids and grandchildren when they go to do their Christmas cards. They keep everything on their smartphones.  But of course, they don’t do cards anymore, either; they just send an e-greeting, which they probably sat down one day in the middle of July and programmed for December.  How will they pass down the address book with all the people’s names and addresses that are our memories of our family and friends?

As I address my cards trying to use my best cursive writing, which I learned in penmanship class at Ellijay Elementary. Penmanship is no longer taught in our schools. I realize this too is a lost art to our children and grandchildren.

As a child, I loved to go to the mailbox and find a letter from my grandmother or maybe one from Santa just for me — and of course the birthday cards. I kept them all. Sometimes, when I want to think about these loved ones, I get out those cards and letters. I bask in the love, the fact that someone cared enough about me to take a moment and handwrite a message to me in a card or a letter, telling me they were thinking of me and loved me very much.

As an adult, I remember going to the mailbox after the loss of a loved one and finding a card or letter from someone who had shared the same feelings I was experiencing. They just wanted to say, I love you and I know how you feel. In my grief, I knew someone cared.

I have been keeping my address book for about 25 years.  It started out as just a little book in which I would write down my family’s and friends’ addresses.  A few years ago, I started to realize that one or two of those people were no longer in my life. But this year, over half of the people in my address book are no longer getting a Christmas card from me. They have disappeared from my life, either by death, divorce or the loss of a family or friend relationship.  Suddenly, my joyful Christmas spirit — awakened by my Christmas-card writing — yielded to sadness. I flipped through the pages and recalled each one. I took a moment to remember why they were in my address book and why they were special to me at some time in my life. Some have passed over, some have divorced, and some have just moved on to a different place that no longer includes me in their life. So many of my dear family are no longer with us, on this earthly side. I suddenly realize I am the matriarch. Yikes, how did that happen?

As I sit and reflect on these feelings of great sadness, I start finding the new names I have added to the address book. My family is expanding, I have added new friends, and I have added grandchildren’s names and addresses.  I guess God knows how to put new people in your life to fill the void of those who have left. I suddenly do not feel so sad anymore. I reflect on these new people in my life and feel my Christmas spirit beginning to return.

I just hope when I am gone and someone finds my address book, they will take a moment to look through it and see that my life has been full.  I hope they will understand that their address book is somewhere in cyberspace and just maybe they should write it down somewhere, even if it can’t be in that pretty cursive writing they will never know how to do.