Jim put down his pen and flexed his fingers, trying to remember why he thought writing long, newsy Christmas cards was a good idea. He'd been at it for an hour and there was still a stack of cards waiting to be done.
Perhaps it was just that there was so much to tell the friends he only touched bases with once a year. Letting them know that he was in a new relationship, that Blair had aced the Academy and was now his partner on the force, and anecdotes about his "mother-in-law", had all conspired to make it necessary to add more than his usual quick "season's greetings" and signature to the cards.
"Is everything all right?" Blair asked from the other end of the dining table, where he was addressing his own stack of cards. "Don't you like the cards?"
Jim glanced down at the cards. Of course, Blair wouldn't choose from the hundreds of boxes Hallmark churned out which were on display in every department store. Instead, he'd traveled to a little shop in Southtown called, appropriately, "Paper and Lace". He'd chosen block prints of soft winter scenes done on hand-made paper. Jim had to admit they were beautiful, and not just visually. The paper felt soft and rough at the same time and the natural inks smelled like a walk in the woods. Each one was slightly different, each a tiny piece of art. "No," he answered, "they're beautiful. It's just taking longer to get these done than I expected."
"Is your hand cramping up?" Blair asked with concern. He walked over and picked up Jim's right hand, massaging it.
"That feels good, babe, thanks." He sighed, looking at the pile again. "I thought this would be a good idea, writing something newsy in a handwritten card. I remember my Dad doing it every year and reading the ones people wrote back to him. It was one of the few really personal things he did. I just thought…"
"This could be a tradition you'd like to continue?"
Jim nodded. "But not if I'm going to become permanently disabled trying to do it."
Blair smiled. "Well, we don't have to plough through them all tonight. We've got a few weeks 'til Christmas and we can do them a bit at a time. That way, it might be pleasurable instead of a chore." He gave Jim's head a pat. "Of course, you could always break down and talk to your dad--maybe get a few pointers. He might even enjoy hearing how you admired what he did every year."
Jim smiled, "Actually, I was thinking the same thing. I think I'll schedule a lunch with him this week." He put down his pen and carefully gathered all the materials, putting aside the finished cards to be stamped and mailed.
"In the meantime, is adopting this as the tradition you want off the table?" Blair asked. He'd promised not to press Jim, but he was also curious.
Jim shrugged and shook out his hand, giving Blair a rueful grin. "Maybe not off the table, but definitely on the back burner."
Blair cleaned up his own pile of correspondence for the night, then joined Jim for a quiet night of tv watching. If he heard Jim sigh, he didn't mention it.