I dug the first envelope out of the velvet box and handed it to my niece sitting expectantly at my feet. She squinted at the childish scrawl on the flap. “Did you really write this, Aunty?”
There were snowmen stickers decorating the front, and plenty of glue and glitter on the back. I hid a smile as she ripped open the flap, eager to read the letter within. “Yes, kiddo, I did.”
I could barely remember writing it, but I did remember the tradition behind it, which had prompted a story and to prove my point, I’d retrieved my old Christmas capsule.
“Wow.” Nessa breathed. “You wrote like me.”
“I wasn’t always thirty you know.” I retorted, leaning forward to read over her shoulder. The memory fuzzed then cleared in my head.
“Mama? What should I write?”
“I don’t know, baby. Write anything you like.”
She kissed my forehead. “Anything.”
“Can I use glitter?”
I squeezed out giant gobs of glue and piled mounds of glitter on it.
“Wow!” Nessa folded the letter and handed it back. “Why'd you write these?”
“Well, a long time ago, my Mom, your grandmother, dreamed up the brilliant
idea of a Christmas time capsule, but only with letters. The seven days before Christmas, we’d all sit down to write letters and-”
“Even my Mom?” Her pre-teen face scrunched into a frown. “Mom never writes anything if she can help it!”
I laughed. “Well, in this case, she couldn’t. Your grandmother wasn’t letting anyone out of this activity. We each had to write seven letters in that last week. Then she’d put it in this box and in ten years, we were allowed to open them. This is my box.”
“So Mom has a box too?” Nessa watched as I tucked the letter carefully inside the box. “Can I make one?”
“Well…it’s really up to you.” I hesitated. “and you would have to follow the rules, you couldn’t open it until ten years from today.”
Nessa shrugged. “That’s fine. This is really cool. I mean, you sound just like me, but smarter in that letter.”
“Smarter?” I perked an eyebrow.
“You know,” She half-shrugged. “Different. More grown-up. You wrote a real letter.”
“Ah. Right.” I closed the box, uncurling from my warm spot on the sofa. “You really want to do this?”
“Yeah…it’d be something different than the whole presents and church thing.” Nessa fiddled with her French braid.
“I didn’t always write them to myself, you know.” I shifted to my feet and beckoned to her.
“You didn’t? Then who’d you write to?”
“God.” I smiled at her puzzlement. “I’ll explain. Come along, niece of mine.”
Seven days to Christmas.
“Aunt Sera, do you have any more glitter?” Nessa held up a super-sparkly sheet of paper. “I ran out around the edges.
Six days to Christmas.
“Aunt Sera, this gel pen doesn’t work!” Nessa tapped it against the table. “It’s stuck!’
Five days to Christmas.
“Aunt Sera, can I read some of your other old letters?” Nessa begged. “I’m kinda stuck.”
Four days to Christmas.
“Awww! Do I have to write another letter?” The whine filtered through the house. “I don’t know what else to write!”
Three days to Christmas.
“This is so unfair! I don’t have anything to write about.” Her lower lip stuck out. “Aunt Sera!”
Two days to Christmas.
“It’s only one letter after this one, right?” She licked the flap and sealed it shut. “Goody. I don’t wanna right another letter as long as I live!”
“Aunt Sera…didn’t you write your letter to God on Christmas eve? Why’d you pick that day?”
“Aunt Sera…can I write one more letter?”
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