It’s high noon, and the streets are cleared. The townspeople are peering through the splits in the window curtains, shivering in their boots. The gunslingers are pacing off…48…49…50…Bang! Texas Jim is quicker on the draw. Iowa Bill takes a bullet to the shoulder and falls to the ground, but not before he manages to fire back at Texas Jim, grazing his arm. They glare at each other, then…smile and wink.
The Christmas Card Showdown of 2014 is over. Texas Jim sent his card first, and Iowa Bill sent one back. The townspeople heave a sigh of relief and continue on with their ordinary lives.
These past few years, I’ve felt as though I’m one of the protagonists in the Christmas Card Showdown. Usually, I’m playing the role of Texas Jim – sending a card first, and hoping Iowa Bill or Oklahoma Jane, or somebody sends one back.
Christmas card sending seems to be becoming more and more like a Wild West showdown – people waiting for the other person to send a card first. Then, and only then, they send one back. I’ve actually heard a number of friends and relatives “joyfully” proclaim that they only send Christmas cards to the people they receive cards from.
What a pity.
It seems to me that the reason we send Christmas cards is because we want to share our rejoicing in the coming of the Redeemer, and our gratitude for salvation. We want to wish others a Merry Christmas and our hope that they share in that rejoicing, too. Waiting to send cards until we receive them is like saying we only want others to exult in the Birth of Christ if they want us to exult in it first.
I’ve been watching this unfold year-to-year, and I’ve noticed a trend: There’s a big difference in the number of Christmas cards I receive based on the date on which I send mine out. The earlier I send mine out, the more cards I receive back. The later I send mine out, the fewer I receive in return.
It’s a showdown. No one wants to send unless the other sends first.
I’m committed to maintaining my role as Texas Jim. I send cards because I sincerely want to wish the people in my life a Joyous Christmas – because He was born so we might live – and not because I’m expecting anything back from them. In as much as possible, I budget my time and money for sending Christmas cards, and I send them when I’m able to get them out, whether or not I’ve received anything from anybody.
This is my little way of helping to proclaim the Good News that was first given to the shepherds in the fields.
The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find and infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:
Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. (Lk 2:10-14)
The good news of great joy is for all people, and I want as many of the folks in my life as possible to know that, and to rejoice in it with me.