It’s Thanksgiving morning and I’m sitting here in blissful silence (alone but not lonely) doing the first bundle of Christmas cards. Extended family commitments have my kids occupied this Thanksgiving, and I made a vow years ago that I would never make them feel guilty when they could not get home for the holidays.
So, some thoughts on the tradition of sending Christmas cards.
It would be easy to convince myself not to bother. The cards are expensive; the stamps, even more so. The time is endless because I match each card with the person. Dog lovers get dog cards and Francphiles get Frenchie cards and religious folk get the religious cards. I’m not meaning to be flippant here, just truthful. Then there’s securing all the addresses from iPad, iPhone, traditional address book, even the phone book(!) in addition to scraps of torn, return-address envelopes that have been folded into a wad and saved from year to year. I have a hodge-podge of sources! All of which adds to the time and hassle. Then I feel that each card should have a bit of a note on it, more than just the cold name. That takes time and creativity.
Why, then, do I still go through this process to the tune of mailing 60+ cards? There are some very special reasons, almost all of which have to do with tradition and how I like to live my life.
–My mother sent Christmas cards, and one of my favorite Christmas childhood memories is that of sprinting with excitement to the mailbox to retrive the day’s stash of well wishes from friends.
–It’s the only time I communicate with certain people like my cousin in Tennessee or the schoolteacher friend who taught with me in Atlanta over 40 years ago or the news directors I mentored at Channel 19.
–It brings me joy because I hope it will bring joy on the other end. I believe that people still like to get mail. I do! Which is another way of saying that people still like to be remembered.
–Christmas is about memories, about friends, about history with people, about how our lives have changed for the better, for the worse. It’s about sharing and caring and wishing and hoping. It’s about taking a minute out of whatever struggle we’re grappling with and thinking of someone else.
–It’s a peaceful, quiet activity amid the rush of Twitter, FB, email, appointments, even parties.
–It’s a solitary experience and we don’t cultivate our solitude very well today.
–It’s about sharing the good news of the season, however you choose to interpret that. For me, it’s a little piece of my heart being sent to your heart to commemorate the birth of the Christ child. That’s worth sitting down and taking the time to share, don’t you think?
Some say that Christmas cards are a waste of paper and stamps and should be avoided. Some say they are old-fashioned and outdated. That’s okay. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. But for me, I’ll continue the tradition as long as I’m able. Don’t text me; don’t email me; send me a Christmas card so I can run to the mailbox to bring it home and put it in the same container I’ve used for years. I’ll be waiting!