Address Book at Christmas

Flipping through my address book – 
getting my Christmas cards ready to send – 
your name pops out, and it gives me a jolt.
You died last month, but your name
lives on in black ink on a lined page
in my address book. And I want to send
you something – but you’re not there
to receive your mail. 
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

My Address Book

I brought out the old address book this weekend to work on my Christmas cards. I’ve had that book about 30 years – I can no longer remember exactly where I got it or when  – but when I first started writing names and addresses in it I’m sure I didn’t realize how significant it would one day become to me. It has become a chronicle of sorts – a record of friendships and family ties.

My mom was the youngest of ten children and my dad the middle of three – at one time I had 11 aunts and uncles  – and their names and addresses are still in my address book, though they are all gone now – Mom and Dad are the only ones remaining in their generation. As I l started flipping through my address book, this was brought home to me. “I don’t have any more aunts or uncles to send Christmas cards to,” I told my husband, sort of in shock.  My cousins, Julie and Skip and Chris, are gone now, too. And Craig and Mark. And I’ve lost friends through the years – Kim has passed, other friends have moved away and on, and I’ve lost my connection to them.

For a moment I was overwhelmed by sadness as I realized how many dear ones are no longer walking this earth with me.

But then, as I started working my way towards the back of each alphabetized section, I started finding more recent names and addresses – a record of new friendships and a younger generation of family members with their own homes.  There was something about that discovery that lifted the sadness from me a little. Yes, I’ve lost loved ones through the years, but I’ve also gained new friends and new family. In the last ten years I’ve added the names of new friends living all over the world – people I’ve met through the internet or through my books  – addresses  for new friends in Minnesota, Michigan, Florida, Ontario, Nova Scotia, England, Kenya – people I never could have imagined knowing when I first got my address book all those years ago.

Although the book is pretty full now, I am happy to note there is still room for more addresses, more friendships. There will always be room in my address book. If I have to, I’ll just tape in more pages.  It’s cool to think of all the new names and addresses my address book might hold in the future.