Sunday, December 27, 2009

No cards this year

We didn't send Christmas cards this year. I wrote about why for one of my Briefing columns this week. You can read it here or here:

Christmas cards aren't all we're missing right now

This Christmas I followed the advice of countless women's magazine articles. In the middle of the busiest, most wonderful time of the year, I let something go.

I didn't send Christmas cards.

This is a big deal. I started my Christmas card tradition more than two decades ago, while still in high school.

I used to pride myself on having them mailed the day after Thanksgiving, eager to spread Christmas cheer as early as was socially acceptable.

I have an entire drawer in my craft closet devoted to Christmas cards – leftovers from previous years and potential future cards.

For the past few years, I've staged multiple photo sessions in front of our Christmas tree, seeking the one image that communicates the joy of Christmas and reflects the genuine happiness of our family.

I loved pulling all the pieces together and sending holiday greetings to the best friends I see every day, to distant relatives, to the couple I haven't seen since we met on a cruise in 2000.

But all that good cheer takes time.

This season, my first Christmas season as a widow and single mom, I've worked diligently to hold together tradition and create new memories. When I went through a mental checklist of everything that must be done, could be done and could be let go, Christmas cards kept falling to the bottom.

And though time is the biggest factor, not sending a card this year also solves other problems.

For one, I haven't even finished sending acknowledgement cards after Steve's memorial service in September. I'm relying on the grace of friends and family members, who surely understand that thank-you notes, while important and polite, haven't been my top priority.

Still, it feels strange to send Christmas cards before I've finished a three-month-old task.

Plus, I can't imagine a photo that could adequately communicate our condition. Cooper and Katie have exponentially more moments of joy every day than moments of sadness. But there's no denying that the grief of losing their beloved daddy affects us every day.

It seems almost dishonest – or incomplete – to send out more than a hundred copies of a cheery photo.

And, truthfully, it delays by a little the sad act of signing just three names.

When we started receiving sympathy cards in September, I struggled with looking at the envelopes. Those that were addressed to "The Damm Family" were much easier to take than those with "Tyra, Cooper and Katie."

The lack of a "Steve" triggered tears almost every time.

Every time this month that I considered squeezing in time for cards, the idea of excluding his name at the bottom triggered the same kind of tears.

I have thought of the message I would write. It would go something like this:

Dear friends and family,

We started 2009 praying for a miracle for Steve. We're ending the year without him.

Cooper, Katie and I are thankful beyond words for the support, love and prayers you showered us with the past two years – first as Steve battled brain cancer and then as we learned how to move forward as a family without his physical presence.

Steve truly believed that every day was a gift. He woke up thanking God for the new day, and then he lived each day with concern for others over himself, with a contagious laugh and with a cheerful spirit that lives on in his children.

We wish you and your loved ones peace and joy in 2010.

Love, Tyra, Cooper and Katie

Tyra Damm is a Briefing columnist. E-mail her at

1 comment:

Dusty said...

I feel your pain. I lost Luke a couple of weeks before Christmas, and I, like you used to send my cards out the day after Thanksgiving, so thankfully, they were sent out before he passed away. The following year was painful, and I just signed The "our last name" Family. I didn't write anything or send any pictures. I think everyone will understand, and I'm sure they read your blog and feel nothing but sympathy for you and your children.