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Guest Column: The value of an annual Christmas letter

Creative Connections by Sara Aeikens

Sara Aeikens


For 2019 Christmas celebration this year, I sent out cards as usual. Before I started writing my yearly letter, I found a pile of half-a-dozen different Christmas letters I’d written over the last two decades. Of course because of my Peace Corps experience of emphasizing the importance of recycling, I came up with the idea of selecting a copy of an old letter that best fit the recipient’s situation, especially if there was a mention of them or some remote connection. 

In rereading my summary letters, I noticed the news over the years hasn’t changed that dramatically.

I also decided to do a bit of editing by adding parentheses and updating with short and snappy words and also by crossing out a few. After a while, I realized we really had only two major events for the year: our health and our far-away trip.

Year 2019 both of us had unexpected surgeries, and neither of us had cancer, for which we are very grateful.

I was in Austin in May and Leo was in Rochester in November, and each of us had only an overnight stay. 

We are both recovered from the intrusions into our bodies and are back to daily exercising and walking. Also being involved in the Save Our Healthcare organization caused me to think about having our medical treatments in other towns. Losing friends or neighbors to death and feeling sad for those losses is at the top of the list of concerns since we are now in the last several decades of our lives.

My only sibling, Mimi, moved with her daughter to Whitehouse, Texas, recently from Oklahoma, so I probably won’t be seeing her as often. I was fortunate enough to make a visit in 2019 via airplane with my son, at his suggestion. 

I’m very glad she lives within blocks from her older daughter, who teaches at the University of Texas, Tyler branch, a short distance from where they both live. I like traveling and visiting new places, so I hope to be able to visit my southern relatives again soon.

In mid-2018, I showed Leo a Mankato University flier promoting a trip to New Zealand. His first reaction was about the long distance the trip would be on the plane. So I was really surprised when he came home from volunteering at the library a few days later, telling me he decided to sign us up for the trip, which included Australia. It turned out his library volunteer partner shared about her trips to that far-off area of the world, which encouraged him to also go.

This trip to the two countries included a cruise on a ship that visited villages along the coastlines. On bus excursions we also had some lovely ocean views including penguins and lots of lovely sea gulls, several farm zoos with kangaroos and koala bears, as well as sheepherders and visits to mosaic sculpture displays.

As I’m here typing on my computer, I hear the noise of a snow-blower near our garage. Looking out the kitchen window, I notice our backyard neighbor kindly clearing off today’s snowfall of several inches. I appreciate her thoughtfulness and reflect on the seemingly insignificant things that happen and make a yearly Christmas letter meaningful to me.

Sara Aeikens is an Albert Lea resident, who worked with her sister, Amelia Nash, on this column.