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I’m monitoring my mailbox.

I don’t usually spend time looking at it, but I am today. I don’t want it to fall. Just a few days ago that wasn’t a concern—but that was before the construction crew started clearing the lot across the street. And that was before the gravel-truck driver forgot to look in his rearview mirror.



So today our mailbox is upright again, propped up by three two-by-fours on three sides. Not too attractive, but functional.

Strange what you think about while posting an eye on the postal receptacle. As I gaze at it, it occurs to me that the mailbox is a lot like a bus terminal—a turnstile for the good and the bad, the wanted and the unwanted. Just for fun, I’m making a list of letters I hope I never receive. (Well, what do you think about when you’re watching a box on a pole?) Here’s what I’ve written so far:

Dear Dad,

I’m writing to ask if there is a limitation to the number of cars our liability insurance covers . . .

Dear Max,

You know last summer when you broke the vase my Uncle Bill had left me? Remember I told you a hundred bucks would be fine, but you insisted I get it appraised? Well, boy, am I glad you did. I hope you are sitting down because the museum’s curator of thirteenth-century art says . . .

Mr. Lucado,

The purpose of this letter is to inform you that the purebred puppy you were sending to Oakland, California, was inadvertently sent to Auckland, New Zealand . . .

Dear Max,

So why am I writing after all these years? Well, it seems that the university made a mistake. They swapped our transcripts. Isn’t that a hoot? And all these years I thought I graduated by the skin of my


teeth. And all these years you thought you were summa cum laude!

Dear Mrs. Lucado,

Recently you purchased from us a home pregnancy diagnostic kit. We are writing to inform you that there was a mistake in the instructions, and what you thought you were, you aren’t, and what you thought you weren’t, you are . . .


I’ve never read any scientific data on it, but it seems to me that the unnecessary mail has the necessary mail outnumbered. (Maybe you are like me and sort your mail over a trash can. Maybe you are like me and wonder if there is anything in the world that doesn’t have its own catalog. If you are a left-handed, right-winged, Ivy League fan of jazz music, there is probably an underwear catalog just for you.) Most mail is unnecessary. So why am I repairing my box?


Simple. It’s December.

Were it any other time of the year, I might leave it on its side. Let the postman hang on to my bills for a few days. But I can’t do that. Not this time of the year. Not December. Not the week before Christmas!

This is the week that mail is fun. This is the week of red envelopes, green stamps, and Christmas tree stickers. This is the week when your old roomie who married Hazel and moved to Phoenix writes to tell you their fourth child is on the way. This is the week of front-and-back newsletters describing the Grand Canyon, graduations, and gallbladder surgeries.


This is the week of overnighted nuts and packaged fruitcakes and frenzied mailmen. Add to that a gift from Aunt Sophie and a calendar from your insurance agent, and you’ve got a daily reason to whistle your way to the mailbox.


So, as much for me as for the mailman, I propped up the box.

Only a Scrooge doesn’t want a Christmas card.

Some are funny. Got one today with elves pulling books off the “elf-help” shelf.

Others are touching, like the illustration of Mother Mary and the baby resting at the base of the Egyptian sphinx.

And a few are unforgettable. Every Christmas I read this reminder that came in the mail several years ago:

If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist. But since our greatest need was forgiveness, God sent us a Savior.

Christmas cards. Punctuated promises. Phrases filled with the reason we do it all anyway.

He became like us, so we could become like him.

Angels still sing, and the star still beckons.


He loves each one of us like there was only one of us to love.

Long after the sender’s name is forgotten, the card’s message lingers. Words of promise. A handful of seeds and syllables flung upon the fertile soil of December with hope of fruit born in July. For that reason, I keep the mailbox up.

My heart can use all the seeds it can get.


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