I read a great post by my friend Kari called “Why I’m Not Sending Everyone a Christmas Card This Year” and, after leaving her a comment, decided to expand on my thoughts here.
I haven’t been sending holiday cards ever since the very beginning of my and Jim’s marriage in 1986 but I don’t think it was too many years before I started making my address list and checking it twice. My holiday card selection/creation process has definitely evolved over the years (much like our refrigerator). In the first few years I picked them up from the store. More specifically, I picked them up from the Hallmark store my mom was managing at the time. Later, I created the cards myself. Papercrafting was super time-consuming but I loved being able to make exactly what was in my head, and being a crafty person it was fun for me. When the boys got older and we all started spending more time on the computer, I began creating our cards on the various sites that are there for that purpose.
Like Kari, I don’t judge and I don’t care either way whether my friends and family send cards every holiday season. I’m not offended when I don’t receive cards from loved ones and I don’t chop my list every January: I don’t send mine out just to get cards back. In fact, the only reasons I normally take someone off of my mailing list are if the card I sent to them was returned with no forwarding address, or if they are completely out of my life for some reason (like previous employers with whom I never have contact anymore).
I love the process of deciding what my card will look like, and then creating the letter I enclose with cards that go to people who I’m not in touch with much and who aren’t connected with me on social media. The letter I write every year is my favorite part because sitting at the computer and reminiscing about the previous twelve months on paper seems like a good exercise. It’s also a great record to keep for our family and I highly recommend this type of written reflection even if you’re not a writer and even if you don’t ever send the letter to anyone. For example, I can look back at old letters and tell you that in 2009, Jason was a freshman at the brand-new high school and loved his Culinary Arts classes, and that Dylan bought his first car and also got his first job (at Chili’s). 2011 was the year in which Jason started experimenting with mixing music, DJ-style, Dylan was preparing to pledge a fraternity, I was preparing to co-produce my first Listen To Your Mother show in Chicago, and Jim and I were celebrating our 25th anniversary. Sending cards and writing those annual letters makes me feel connected to simpler times, the days before social media when snail mail was the only option.
Getting those holiday cards out has become difficult for lots of people, for various reasons: the cards and postage can be cost-prohibitive, the “right” family picture can be hard to get, folks are busy…that’s why it’s becoming one of those traditions that’s falling by the wayside. While I’m sad every time one of my friends declares that they won’t be sending cards this year, I’m not surprised: I receive fewer each year. Who knows? Someday I may be the only person doing this at all…but I hope not.