Love, the virtue of starting Christmas cards early, and some help for loneliness.

It’s almost September.

First, I want to cover the whole Christmas card thing.

We have 180 days until the big day. I get that.

But me a favor: Start on the cards.

Get out your box of old Christmas cards. I don’t care if it’s under seventy thousand pounds of crap you’ve accumulated since January, just go get it. And a pen and paper.

In figuring out to whom you want to send Christmas Cards, shift your focus this year. Don’t think about who you want to send the cards to. You do that every year.

Instead, think about the experiences you’ve had the past year.

Now connect them to the faces of the people you’ve met within each experience.

Write down the following questions: With whom have I had coffee? A drink? Gone to a ballgame? Had a meal? Sat and talked with in the lunchroom at work?

Who waited on me? Served me? Say hello to me every time they walk their dog past my house?

Who do I see at the coffee shop every week? The grocery store? On the walk with my dog?

Those are the folks that are at the top of your list. These faces are the fabric woven into every day.

Within each experience, a connection is made.

Experiences can be hard to retrieve. Our memory tends to let the more mundane get past us. Retrieval requires some time in a soft chair, calendar in hand, and a review of each page. The days and events of the past will become more familiar as you revisit the days. Just review each month, look back and reflect into the moments that made a difference.

Then, remember all the people within those moments. And retrieve the memories.

Every Lyft driver I saw this year I engaged in conversation. New Orleans, Chicago and points beyond. And every one of them was kind, charming, and interesting as hell.

I met a woman behind the counter in a Snorkel Rental place in Kauai. She was moving from Kauai to Alaska with her five kids. We spoke for twenty minutes. She was an absolute poster child in strength, resilience and calm.

In July I met two large security guys and two bartenders at Buddy Guy’s Legends Bar in Chicago. I told both of the security guys that they were doing their job because I felt very secure with myself, and they both laughed. And the bartenders took the time to both tell me about their path to Legends, including their families, their travels, and their hopes for the future.

If I had their contact information and thought about this prospect throughout the year, they’d all be getting Christmas cards.

So this year, my circle of friendship expands.

I recognize that there’s two problems with this. First, it’s likely that they won’t remember you and, two, it’s hard getting a stranger’s contact information.

About that last one: Take a selfie with every person who you feel had an effect on you this year. Tell them you are sending them their picture. The “Notes” app on your phone. Take the selfie, go the notes app, dictate the date, the name, the email address and the nature of the event and, viola, in UNDER THIRTY SECONDS (clock this the next time you try it. It’s under thirty seconds, I swear) and you’ve got a memory that you can share with them.

Send them the picture immediately. Now they have a reference to remember you by, and you’ve got the event in your phone to remember them later when you find the picture and share it with them at Christmas. Some may balk at sharing the information. But, and this I absolutely guarantee you, most won’t.

And please note the words, “share it with them.”

This is how we begin to cut into the national emotional crisis we call Loneliness.

I want us to take these pictures and return them to each person with the note, “This year in (put in the month) we met in (name the place) and I wanted to tell you how happy I was that you crossed my path. I hope that your life unfolds into a magnificent journey. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and may this coming year be magical for you.” Or something like that.

You’ve make a friend. You’ve shared your soul. And you’ve rekindled a spirit.

This is how you make somebody feel valuable. This is how you make somebody feel like they matter.

And for that moment, their loneliness disappears.

They all might have families, loved ones, friends to share their life. But for the few that don’t, your card and picture makes a difference.

You have opened your heart, shared your experiences, and tracked the steps of your life that have crossed another.

You have made a friend. You have shared your light with another.

This is what I believe we are here to do.

Get started.

Merry Christmas.


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