Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

It Got Me Thinking…About Thoughtful Holiday Greetings December 20, 2011

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

Last week, LWBer Dorothy Williams wrote about holiday cards in her guest spot, With Eyes of Faith…Birthday Jesus. She writes about why she chooses to send a card that celebrates the birth of Jesus versus “one of those cards” that trumpets family and children and seems to stab us right in the heart with our childfreeness.

It got me thinking about the worst holiday greeting I ever received. I was recently single again and in the throes of an if-I’m-going-to-be-a-mother-I-need-to-have-a-child-on-my-own-NOW panic attack. Friends’ cheery letters celebrated new homes, new babies, and full lives, and while I so wanted to be happy for them, each new photo was a painful reminder of all that I lacked and so desperately wanted.

In the pile of unopened mail one afternoon was a delivery from a long-time friend. In an effort to save time, she had mass produced address labels and affixed them to the envelopes. Smart. Mine was addressed to “The Guthrie Family,” although my friend had crossed out “The” and “Family” and written “Kathy” above. Not so smart. The insensitivity took my breath away.

I’ve talked to friends who have lost spouses to death or divorce, and they share a similar hurt when cards are inappropriately addressed. I want to shout “THINK, PEOPLE!” I know we’re all busy, I know this season is crazy, I know we are each shouldering our burdens, but please, take an extra minute, waste that extra stamp, and practice sending goodwill to all.

Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. When she can plan ahead, she prefers to send Thanksgiving cards.