A lot of people have told me they don’t like writing Christmas cards and I agree that sending a stamped card through the mail is an antiquated tradition. We now have much faster ways of communicating with friends and family. We can text, phone, or even e-mail those we love, but still I prefer the sending a real card through the mail.
Traditionally I design my card each year, draw it out, photo copy it and hand write each card. Although there were a few years when I lived in Seattle that I was too sick and busy to do that. I found it sad and I missed it but I still filled out and sent my store bought cards. There have been years that my wrists were so painful and inflamed that I could hardly write and yet I still wrote out all of my cards one or two at a time. I might have even sent out a few after Christmas day. In the last few years I have even taken to sending out almost a third of my cards digitally. But why do I bother?
It was funny as I wrote my cards this year I realized that I do it for many reasons, and the reasons multiply each year.
For one thing I enjoy it. I look forward to designing my card and enjoy the challenge of coming up with something new each year. I also like receiving cards. It makes me feel loved, and I have a little stack of my favorites that I pull out each year and look at. But but those reasons don’t really cover my feelings.
Because I write my cards at the same time each year I have a mental picture of myself that I can compare my current self to. Remembering years past and how I felt and what I was doing is both painful and irresistible. Sometimes I go through my address book and cry at the people that I have lost, some to death and some to the vagaries of real life. But mostly I find that it helps me appreciate the good things I have. Some years have been very awful for me but the act of writing to all the people that I know and love has helped me to see that I had love in my life and that there was good in the world. This exercise lets me take some time to remember my friends. Often times these cards are the only contact that I have with people. Life is busy and without my yearly cards we probably wouldn’t stay in touch at all.
Christmas is a great excuse to do this, no one looks at you strangely. After all it is a time of year that people get a little introspective and think about the past and who they really care about. Thus I find that an act that at any other time of the year might alienate people can now bring us closer together.
I do not send out cards because I want to pinch my friends and family with guilt, nor do I do it because I expect a card in return (although I confess to wanting one) and I hope that my cards do not inspire such feelings in others. After all they are small inexpensive things. I’m hoping more to share my feelings and my love as yet another year comes to a close.