This is a revised version of a short story I wrote in 2009 for a friend's blog. Since it's one of my favorites, I'd like to share it with you this Christmas Season.
Although this is a work of fiction, some of its aspects still ring true for me and many others who send out Christmas cards each year. I hope you enjoy it.
Abby frowned, as she set the Christmas cards on the kitchen counter and reached for her pen in the junk drawer. What used to give her joy now filled her with sadness. Once she’d groaned at the money she’d spent on cards and stamps. She wished that were still true.
Time marches on. Many of the people who’d touched her life were gone. Some had moved on and left no forwarding addresses, but too many others now resided where no mail could reach them.
“I miss you,” she said aloud to the empty kitchen.
A wintry afternoon snow/sleet mix pelted the windows. The wind howled, reinforcing Abby's feelings of abandonment.
Christmastime was supposed to be a happy season, but she couldn’t shake off her melancholy. She should be grateful for those who were left, and she was. Still, she longed for the one’s she’d never see again. Mom and Dad, sis, her niece, Nancy, her good friends, Judy and Maureen, and so many others were not around anymore. At times like this, she regretted not finding someone to share her life. Then again, maybe he’d have gone the way of the others.
She padded on her fuzzy slippers to the wooden table, pulled out the matching chair and began penning notes inside the cards.
It was hard to make her stiff fingers move right, with the arthritis taking over, not to mention she was more used to typing than writing in cursive.
Forty years as an administrative assistant, first on a typewriter, then a computer, did that to a person. Five years after retirement, she still hardly wrote, choosing to use a keyboard instead.
That reminded her. She hadn’t checked her e-mail and blogs. She’d do it after she finished the cards. Her heart lifted at the thought.
All too soon she’d stamped the few cards, placed Christmas seals on their backs, and secured them with a rubber band. She’d mail them tomorrow. For now, she’d switch on the laptop computer on her kitchen desk and see what everybody in the cyber world was up to.
The usual mass of e-mails awaited her from e-groups she’d joined over the years. Also, she hadn’t gone through her blog roll yet to see what was going on there, not to mention the Facebook and Twitter posts.
Smiling, she entered the world of her cyber friends, and commiserated and/or cheered, according to what was appropriate. Janet had had a baby girl and both were doing fine, Sue’s dog was eating chair legs, John wanted suggestions for an inexpensive, caring Christmas gift for his girlfriend.
When Abby started to get hungry, a glance at the monitor’s clock surprisingly told her two hours had passed.
The time had been well spent. Though she’d only met one or two of them in person, her online friends were real and important to her. Every day they shared secrets, triumphs and sorrows with each other. Wasn’t that what friendship was about?
She wasn’t so alone after all. A feeling of warmth stole over her, kind of like when she drank a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter day. Her snail mail list may have diminished, but her Internet friends had grown.
She was truly blessed. Smile widening, she got up to fix dinner.
Merry Christmas, Cyber Friends!