The ghosts of Christmases past

Today I tackled two of my most dreaded seasonal tasks: Culling my Christmas card list, and entering an ever-growing list of birthdays into next year’s Filofax. (Here’s the latter, in progress:)

One of the things that makes me dread these tasks—apart from the fact that they’re labor-intensive and boring—is that every year I’m confronted with the same tough questions. Should I keep sending Christmas and birthday cards to someone with whom I haven’t spoken in 10 years? What’s the statute of limitation for friendships these days?

Alas, there are no clear guidelines—that I know of—for turning friends into acquaintances, or acquaintances into memories. So every year I dutifully jot down the birthday of my former colleague, Gillian, who moved to Texas 10 years ago. She may move back to Minnesota someday, I guess.

Seeing Gillian’s name today made me think of all the other people with whom I’ve lost touch over the years.

I once lost an entire group of friends in one day, when my family fled Peru’s violence and instability in the late 70s. I still wonder what became of my best childhood friend, Claudia Fabj. All I know is that her dad worked for Olivetti, and that her family moved back to Italy shortly after mine came to the States.

Fortunately, very few of my friendships have ended so sadly or abruptly. Most have just faded slowly, chipped away by distance, change and time.

Sifting through all those names today has been a bittersweet testament to the frail and fickle nature of human relationships. But it has also been a wonderful reminder that my most cherished friendships have endured.

It’s good to know that I’ll always have a few Christmas cards to send out.


  1. It’s natural to have friendships ebb and flow. But sad, sometimes…I still remember the names of my best friends every year when I was a kid. Because my dad was in the Army, we moved almost every year, and best friends would be lost forever quite often.

    • How sad that you had to leave your friends behind so often, Pam. Your recollections made me wonder whether Army brats have it a little easier these days, since they can (sort of) stay in touch via Facebook and email.

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