I've never been good at shipping things, gifts in particular. From a distance, it's hard to decide what someone would like. Shipping is expensive and money is tight. I tend to give gifts to people I'm with, and I rotate through the relatives enough so that it works out (sort of). I have long-time friends whom I think about often and see rarely, but it always feels like no time has passed when we get together. A couple of years ago, I saw two dear friends from high school, and we had a great time reliving our antics from 40 years ago. I haven't seen Ruth, the best friend I've ever had, in several years, but she's still in my heart constantly.
Now that we're in the days of unlimited calling, why don't I ever pick up the phone and talk to friends? Now that the post office gives out free boxes and I can buy postage online at a discount, why don't I send gifts? I write. I'm a writer. Do I write letters? Not much. Why? I like to examine these personality quirks and try to figure them out.
I may be flattering myself, I may just be lazy, but I think I give my all in the moment. I'm passionate about connecting with whoever is right in front of me, and I spend so much time doing so that I neglect the loved ones who are far-flung.
A man with a guitar stopped by my booth downtown, and we got to talking. We discussed depression at length, and the problem of forgetting who we can call when we're really down. I shared my strategy of keeping a list of my closest confidants and their phone numbers close at hand, although even with that tool I sometimes find it difficult to pull out of that low place enough to pick up the phone. As he took my business card, I told him to feel free to call me. He texted me some days later and thanked me. But when he phoned last week, I was traveling and didn't get the message right away. Have I called him back? No! I really need to do that!
As I was saying, we get caught up in the moment, connecting with people who are nearby, and I think that's a good thing. We can learn from every single person who crosses our paths, and experiences become memories that keep us company forever. I deeply admire people who are also able to touch base with old friends regularly, send cards at Christmas and birthdays, call for no particular reason. I'm not one of them, but the feelings and affection and memories are always close at hand.
As we've passed the hurtle of Christmas shipping and begin the sack lunch distribution project, I know I will meet some fascinating people. Please excuse me for not sending you a card or a gift, and please know that you are with me all the time, my loved ones, as I give my all to the strangers on the street and feed them thanks to your willingness to have gifts shipped.