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Coming back to work today, I noticed something I had tacked to my office wall.

It is there amidst papers with project codes, routing rules, and other matters of dubious professional importance. It caught my eye, the contrast between the upright lettering and my decidedly tilted scribble. It stood out.

It is the envelope my Uncle Larry and Aunt Joanne had sent to my wife and I for Christmas last year (well, they sent a Christmas card along with the envelope).

It is my Uncle Larry’s immaculate penmanship. It is my name (complete with the S.). It is the full zip code. It is my Uncle in a nutshell.

I kept the envelope to write him back. I will keep it there for as long as I have this office.

By Michael Gallagher

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

2 thoughts on “A Christmas Card from last year”
  1. I kinda know what this feels like. I was around 23 or 24 (and away at university) when my grandmother died – quite suddenly – on the 2nd of September. Of course, I went back home for the funeral … and the day after I got there I received a birthday card in the post from her. It was 9 whole days before my birthday but there it was – it all its glory, in her perfect handwriting – sitting on the counter with my name on it. I didn’t cry about her death until I opened it and saw the lovely card with – as always – 20 dollars and a nice note in it. It was a surreal moment, that’s for sure.

    That was about 10 years ago (wow!) but it still a) gives me the chills and b) makes me happy when someone tells me that my handwriting (very Catholic schoolgirl) looks like my nan’s did. 🙂

    Well, take care!

  2. Melissa,

    That is a touching story for sure about your grandmother. Those reminders (letters, envelopes, photos) just seem to pop up in those moments; I am guessing partly because we are secretly looking for them, the world almost wills them to us. 9 days before your birthday is remarkable ( I literally saw my uncle six days before he passed-I only make it home once a year-the timing was perfect).

    That is a beautiful memory; thanks for sharing. By the way, I too stand as a proud product of a Catholic education (K-12), but as a left-hander the experience was a real lesson in self-reliance. I could only muster a mini-rebellion in my handwriting flair (which is only slightly outside rigidity!).

    I had actually bought my uncle postcards from my last trip to Ireland (with Yeats and Joyce all over them) to write my uncle as he would love them. I think I will keep the rest of them. Take care Melissa!

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