I was cleaning out a closet in my office the other day. I found one of “those stacks.” You know the one. You keep a stack of stuff, usually paperwork, with the best intentions to get back to it. As I started looking through the plethora of paper, I found a bunch of Christmas cards. Now, I have to be honest, I usually hit this stack about March, but we’ve been traveling a lot lately and I am a little behind.
It was so cool to see the smiling faces amidst a Christmas tree, or a shot from a trip taken during the year. Letters were among the cards describing the family events of the year. There were tears and laughter and a sense of getting “caught up” on the latest from these dear friends. I had specifically pulled out a couple of cards with their address on the envelopes, to send a note. I didn’t have their email addresses or phone numbers, so I thought I would use snail mail to send a greeting.
But, oh how embarrassing! Four months after I received their card, I am going to send a note? What would Emily Post say? I should Google to see how long I have to send a note after receiving a Christmas card. Brides have a year to send thank you notes, right? Is it ever too late?
I don’t think it is ever too late to send a note. I am big on notes. With the lack of note writing in our culture today…well, I think it is a lost art. Where am I going with all of this?
When it comes to your stepfamily and your marriage, it’s never too late to send a note. How does that song go by John Mayer “say what you need to say”? It doesn’t have to be a special occasion to say something nice. I think the best notes come when they are unexpected. When was the last time you complimented your step kids (let alone your bio kids)? Especially when you see them doing something kind or selfless…let them know how proud you are of them. In most situations, our kids/stepkids did not ask to be in a stepfamily. Every chance we get to build a bridge to their heart…take it. Something as simple as a note says, “I am seeing the good in you,” “I like having you in my life” and/or “you are important to me”.
If you have teenagers this is a great way to play with their head. As parents, it’s our job to always keep them guessing, right? I drove to my son’s high school and found where he had parked. When I saw his car, I jumped out and slid a note under his windshield wiper. It was a very covert operation (hear the Mission Impossible theme?) I don’t think there was a particular reason I did this…but does there have to be? I think I tied a balloon to his antenna too.
Have you ever heard of the Five Love Languages? These are ways that you show people that you love and care for them. They are: Gifts, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, and Words of Affirmation. Now, when most people receive a note in the mail, they may be surprised and think, “Wow, how nice!” When people receive a card who has Words of Affirmation as their love language, watch out. Yes, they may be surprised and say “wow, how nice”. But that is in between the tears of joy and backflips because they realize that someone really understands what’s important to them.
When was the last time you complimented your spouse? It doesn’t have to be anything huge! Remember, it’s the little things that can make a marriage, and it’s the little things that can destroy it. When juggling kids’ schedules, alimony, exe’s, health issues and kid attitudes (no matter if they are 5 or 50) wouldn’t it be nice to get a kind word from your best friend (that would be your spouse?). It brings calm, empathy and a reminder that we’re on the same team.
A kind word, whether it be a handwritten note (those are best) an email or even a text, gives someone a gift. A gift of “I believe in you”, “you are incredible”, “you make me smile” …well you get the idea. As I read this, yes it may sound sugar-coated at times. But I would rather err on the side of sugar-coated than miss someone’s heart by not saying anything at all.
Christmas in April. I’m getting my Christmas card notes out this week. When are you getting your notes out? It’s never too late. Your correspondence will feel like giving a Christmas gift in April.