Can a New Year's card double as a Valentine's Day greeting too?
I certainly hope so because my mailing list has me still addressing envelopes. Over the years, our list of friends has grown longer and longer.
At this late date, it's a dilemma whether to cut the list or march on through the names. As I stare at my list, perhaps a family picture -- one we took at the end of December -- and a newsy letter to read on a chilly February night is better than none.
When a friend's late card finds its way to our mailbox, memories always warm my heart.
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It's the memories that are part of the catch-22. If I delete someone, then it seems I lose the connection to that person who once touched my life. Each name recalls a friend who encouraged, inspired or loved along the journey. All are a piece of my story.
Author Debbie Macomber says these individuals are on "God's guest list" in her book by the same name. She believes that he sends us people who may offer wisdom, enhance our faith or are instrumental in expanding a vision for our life, among other things.
I can't help but look back on the countless friends who have helped me along on my career path, first in radio, then TV and now as a writer. Or the longtime friends who in 1978 waved goodbye with a tear in their eye, but still offered helping hands -- and a lot of prayer -- for a move to Washington; a dream we wanted to follow. Through good times and bad, friends have been at the heart of making life better, my faith stronger.
Some friends have appeared on the list quite unexpectedly. When I was dealing with breast cancer, I reached a wrong number. Yes, it was the same last name, but not the person I hoped to talk with about book recommendations for my health issue.
But God knew who I needed on my "guest list."
"Just a minute," the gentleman on the other end of the phone said in a very kind tone. "From what you're saying, you may want to talk with my wife."
I learned she was a few steps ahead of me in decision-making for her own breast cancer and would enjoy meeting over coffee. Her advice was priceless, giving me the courage to follow my heart with an alternative approach after surgery. It has been nine years this month that I'm a cancer survivor. And for nine years this woman, who once was a stranger, has continued to be a friend.
Still, it's easy to lose folks who have enriched our yesterdays and todays. Author Macomber wisely tells us to hold onto them, even if our contact is only once a year.
It may take until Valentine's Day to get my cards mailed. But when they're delivered, I hope each recipient knows just how special they are.
After all, they're on God's guest list -- a list that has touched my life with his love.
* Lucy Luginbill is a freelance writer, former TV producer and "Light Notes" blogger at www.tri-cityherald.com. Questions and comments should be directed to her in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org