It’s that time of year again, the time when you scour your photos in your phone for a decent one of you and the kids that you can upload to some stationery company like Shutterfly, VistaPrint, etc, and order Christmas or Holiday cards to send to people you know. Every year I vow I’m not going to do it again.
I was always under the impression Christmas cards were sent to people you didn’t speak with on a regular basis as a way to keep in touch. I’ve found over the years the people I don’t speak with stop sending cards. Is it out of sight, out of mind? Or is it, well, I have to see her in the supermarket, so I better send her another card. People move away, change jobs, whatever. Why would you stop sending cards just because we don’t live around the corner from each other anymore? I mean, if I do run into you at the CVS and we catch up about your sick dog do I really need the card? Yes, I do!
Christmas cards were first sent in the 1800’s by Henry Cole. He was a very busy man and didn’t have the time to answer the letters sent to him at Christmas time. Letters that were filled with stories from friends about their lives during the year. (See, letters from people he didn’t see often.) He had an idea to create a card with the same thing written inside each one and send that instead. Voila!
So, the cards I receive each year are dwindling. I like going to the mailbox at Christmas time in hopes of finding a jewel-toned envelope waiting for me. Let’s face it, cards are way more fun than a bill, no? I’ve lived in five towns in my married life. I should be getting a boat load of cards this late in my life. But that’s not the case. Friends I no longer work with or live near have stopped sending and here’s my hard and fast rule: if you don’t send to me two years in a row I stop sending to you.
Does that sound harsh? Am I perpetuating my own demise? Could there be some rational explanation as to why someone’s card no longer arrives in the post for me? Could the budget be stretched too tightly that cards are no longer an option? (Have you seen the price of some of these cards?) Are these people boycotting Christmas? Is it pure laziness? And there’s always the famous, “I’m too busy!” (Which is my least favorite excuse for anything. We’re all busy. Take a seat.)
Though I said it myself, each year I consider not sending. Why? Well, for one, uploading photos to those sites isn’t as easy as it sounds. It never goes smoothly. I spend hours trying to get the right photo, upload it, edit it, pick a card. Oh, the picking of a card! That’s torture all by itself. We’re an interfaith family. I try to be respectful of the fact we celebrate Hanukkah as well as Christmas and the people I send to might also celebrate more than one holiday. It isn’t easy trying to find a middle of the road holiday card that I like and that has the appropriate number of photo slots, let me tell you.
If I’m going to get fewer and fewer cards in the mail, is it worth it to break a sweat every year over sending these cards? I could go back to the boxed cards bought in the stores. Eventually, my kids are going to get too old to stick on those cards anyway. It’s cute for a while, but how long can you drag out a good thing?
That might be the answer. Boxed cards! I still get a couple of those each year from people whose children are grown and sending out photo cards of their own. I used to send boxed cards before I had kids and my mailbox was filled with cards of other people’s children. Yes, filled. Where have all those people gone?
I would like to still find those cards waiting for me each cold afternoon as I walk the mile to my mailbox. Okay, it’s not that far. Give me a break, I’m a fiction writer after all. I would like to think those people from years ago still pull my name up on a list and say, “hey, I wonder how her year went? Let’s send her a card.”
I am grateful for the cards that continue to arrive from friends from high school, college, old neighbors, and new friends. Thank you for sending those cards. Keep them coming.