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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Cards (11/06/08)

TITLE: The Fa-la-la Wall
By Charldene Ashley


Every year I handwrite addresses and scribble personal messages on more than 150 Christmas cards, finishing before I’ve digested my Thanksgiving turkey and leaving my right hand resembles a lobster claw. Why do I do it? Christmas cards matter to me, especially since my husband’s job has us moving a lot. It’s the only time I communicate with most of my faraway friends and relatives. I always enclose a photo of my three children arm-in-arm, wearing Santa hats and forced smiles.

This year was different. I sent a photo of my husband and me on our 25th wedding anniversary trip to Prague. I had serious reservations—I preferred these people remember me as I looked before menopause. Still, the picture wasn’t awful. I thought it would help if I upgraded the cards, so I bought the pricier ones benefiting our local Children’s Hospital. I felt virtuous.

Today my mailbox was full. I weeded out the catalogs, bills and Bed Bath & Beyond coupons and found four Christmas cards—four more additions to the Fa-la-la Wall. The Fa-la-la Wall (a silly name inspired by the Christmas carol 'Deck the Halls') is the wall that separates my kitchen from the kitchen office that I use to display all the Christmas cards. I feel that if someone spends their time and treasure to send a card, then I ought to honor it, making sure they get their money’s worth. The Fa-la-la Wall is the first thing you see when you enter the kitchen, which is the heart of our house.

I brought a cup of cocoa and the cards to the kitchen table, and then I sat down to enjoy them. As usual, the Drakes sent a photo postcard. Poor little Sarah’s eyes were closed and Bill had a five o’clock shadow; but Barbara looked stunning—which was clearly the reason she chose the photo. I could relate to that. There was no personal message, just the generic inscription “Season’s Greetings”. Sigh.

Aunt Dottie’s card featured a picture of a reindeer with a very red nose, hoisting a martini glass. “Cheers” read the inscription. In red ink, she added “God bless you all. Aunt Dot. P.S. When you read this I’ll be cruising through the Panama Canal”. Since Uncle Dick died, Aunt Dottie was seldom home. Too many sad memories, I guess. Or perhaps a new boyfriend?

The Foscues sent a gorgeous card with a professional photo of the twins, bordered in red with golden embellishments. The embossed inscription read “Happy Holidays and a Prosperous New Year”. This was an expensive card, so this must have been a prosperous year for the Foscues. The enclosed letter confirmed this. Tom had gotten a big promotion, Linda was President of the Women’s Club, and her twins were the most academically and athletically gifted youngsters in the northern hemisphere. How nice.

The last one was from Trish Coleman. I hadn’t seen Trish in twenty years, since I left the company to be a full-time mom. The card had a nativity scene with a beautifully rendered cow. Her personal note read, “You haven’t aged a bit. Belated congratulations on your 25 years of marriage. You have been richly blessed.” Those words made my heart soar like Santa’s reindeers on steroids. Her card would get a prominent place on the Fa-la-la Wall.

After taping the cards up, I stepped back to admire my work. It was a dazzling display of vivid colors, joyful images and smiling faces—a sight that added sparkle to my spirits and made me glow with good cheer. I saw tender Madonnas, shimmering angels holding doves, bejeweled Christmas trees, glittering snow scenes, dogs in Santa hats, skiing penguins, golfing Santas, naughty elves...hmmmm. I doubt God intended us to acknowledge the birth of our Savior with naughty elves or tipsy reindeer. But I think He might approve of the Fa-la-la Wall; because it serves to remind me how much He has blessed me with family and friends. Happy Birthday, Jesus. And thank you.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 11/14/08
I love your thoughts on all the cards that come in, and the Fa-la-la wall. I found this piece engaging and thoughtful. Enjoyed it!
Sharlyn Guthrie11/14/08
This was fun to read. I could picture each card, and I love the title.
Leigh MacKelvey11/15/08
Great descriptions. I feel exactly the same feeling when I open a card with no personal message, so I especially liked that part. Loved the idea of a fa-la-la wall.
Angela M. Baker-Bridge11/16/08
You managed to weave several important messages into this sentimental story. Nicely done.