A Card for Aunt Hilda by Gary A. Fritz

A Card for Aunt Hilda

Gary A. Fritz on Christmas Letters & Vanishing Connections

When I wrote them they seemed to come from me, but when they were typewritten he always felt that the machine had come between us. —“A Case of Identity” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

My annual duty is done. I’ve written the card, stamped and addressed the envelope, and taken it out to be mailed. I’m pretty old-school, you see. Well, actually it’s my aunt who is old-school. Hilda is 88, lives in Seattle, and her hearing, health, and memory are failing. But she remains as strong-willed as ever, so I know what kind of disdainful reaction there would be to any of those Christmas form letters. “I don’t read them,” she would quip with just the right dose of holiday bitterness in her voice.

And so, every year, when it comes time for the annual holiday letter, Hilda is the exception, receiving from me a hand-written note in a real Christmas card. Everyone else receives the standard printed letter, the newsy update of life at the Fritz house. But this exercise of appeasing my aunt, this yearly task of sitting down with pen and card, always gives me pause to consider.

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