What’s the best way to start? Alyssa wondered. She scribbled the phrase Beloved friends and family, on the paper then scratched it out. Way too dramatic. Next was Hey, ya’ll, which she decided sounded too redneck. Then it was My fellow Americans which she chuckled at, then scratched out. No sense riling everybody up about the election. That one’s out.
Okay, Alyssa, she told herself, get serious. The way you’re procrastinating with this thing you’d think t was that term paper from last semester on symbolism in The Scarlet Letter. Now THAT was awful. This should be fun. Or at least marginally more enjoyable than an assignment from Professor Hawkins’ (aka Hawk Nose’s) American Literature class.
But as Alyssa glanced over at the stack of letters she’d already received this season, she knew why she was dreading this. Katie’s engaged to a doctor; Marcy’s happily-married, pregnant with baby number two, who will probably inherit her perfectly perfect curly hair just like her first child and be perfectly precocious; Joe got a job in England with a software company like he’d always wanted; and Hallie had come back from spending her summer as a missionary in Kenya, helping to set up a medical clinic. What had Alyssa done this year to compete with any one of them?
It wasn’t that she was really all THAT unhappy with her life. She was in her senior year at college, so there was a light at the end of that tunnel. She had a lot of good friends at church and work. But what was it about sitting down to summarize the past 12 months that made her wish she could add a line about wedding bells, or decorating a nursery, or somehow prove that her life was moving forward just like her friends’?
Maybe I should use a more humorous approach, she thought. Haven’t people used self-deprecating humor for centuries as a defense mechanism?
I am happy to report that because nothing significant has taken place in my life over the past year, I am able to reduce my use of ink and thereby help save the planet for my children’s children (in the hope that I do someday have children, that is) by having you search your archives, attic or trash heap for the Christmas letter I wrote last year and re-read it, simply substituting ‘senior year’ for ‘junior year’ and ‘2008’ for ‘2007’ . Thank you and best wishes.
Okay, that’s no good, but I do feel a little better, Alyssa thought with a grin. Let’s try this one:
I’m fine. Twinkles the cat is also fine. We will be spending a quiet Christmas together watching It’s a Wonderful Life and eating fudge straight from the saucepan, since we seem to be the lone creatures on the planet with nothing better to do. Even my folks decided to take advantage of a Christmas special and cruise to Hawaii.
Nope. I want a little sympathy, maybe, but that one’s downright pathetic! Alyssa crumbled up the notepaper into a miniature basketball, tossed it and missed the trash by at least six inches. Sheesh, she thought sarcastically, could this whole ordeal get any better?
Why not just be thankful?
Those words were spoken so clearly to her spirit that she knew immediately that they were not from within her. Shoot. Just when she was getting into the spirit of her pity party, God had to go and throw a wrench in it.
She sighed and picked up the stack of notepapers, knocking them against the table to line them all up. Then she started writing.
Dearest family and friends,
I have been so blessed this year. I have had the privilege of waking up each and every morning to God’s newest mercies. My health is good. I have friends with whom I share this journey and most of all, I have a God who is crazy about me. For what more should I ask?
Although some days I feel like my life has not yet begun, I rest in the hope that today I am directly where He can best use me. My prayer for each of us is that we won’t miss a single opportunity to share His light in what feels like an increasingly-darkened world. May your season be bright and next year be brighter!
In Christ’s Peace,
PS Twinkles the cat and I will be spending Christmas quietly this year. Feel free to drop in for fudge and movie night. Love--Alyssa
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