With graduations comes the expected congratulations card, as well as a coffee gift card, so young college students can stay awake to study for exams (or at least be awake to get to taco bell at three in the morning). Of course Meg has a box of note cards. I passed over Pinks and flowers – I know the world has gone gender free for colors, but I still struggle with pink. There were also stacks of thank you cards – which might be appropriate for parents to their college student (thank you for relieving me of tuition payments). I suppose some people, at this point, would go out to buy a card, but I kept digging and came to the only serviceable possibility: old Christmas Cards.
Nowadays we send the expected “Look, the Taylors have another child!” picture card at Christmas. But in our early years – trying to be adults – we bought Hallmark cards with the manger, the star, and quotes about Hope. Inevitably we had too many. I always promised we would not buy cards the next year and send out a menagerie of leftovers. Meg never agreed, so, at the bottom of our card box, they all sit.
On Thursday Meg and I will be married fourteen years. Looking at these Christmas cards brought back a flood of memories. We graduated college on a Saturday and were married the next day at the Bolivar golf course. An establishment so fine they did not charge us to use the grounds. After a honeymoon we packed everything we owned into the smallest U-haul available. With space to spare – I couldn’t imagine needing more – we headed to Texas, breaking down only once on the way (U-haul is a splendid company…).
Neither of us had a job. We lived on graduation and wedding gifts and – of course – love. I would start seminary in the fall, Meg would find a teaching job, and I waited tables. We didn’t have furniture in our living room until a friend loaned us two green chairs from his friends’ furnished apartment. Our bed was Meg’s growing up, and soon springs were poking through – our love was dangerous.
Looking back, we were fairly ridiculous – an impossible situation to duplicate with four kids. But sitting in two green chairs, writing Christmas cards – we refused to not have a personal note in every card – life was so right together. We were hopeful for tomorrow.
With these memories in my mind, our old Christmas cards became graduation cards. I want each card to bring a taste of our young joy. Our gifts, added to yours, will help. But I really desire for these graduates to find the joy of their lives becoming whole.
Not just unity with friends or a love. But unity with the Creator. As Christmas declares, God has arrived. The arrival is not just in Bethlehem. For those of us watching, He has arrived in every place. I found Him in Bolivar and He drew me to Meg. Together we found him in Texas, later in Georgia, now in Missouri. Sometimes He is hidden behind all the cards life tries to deal us, but if you are watching, He has arrived – no matter where you find yourself. There at the bottom of the box, through all the ends and outs of life, is Hope.