Clunk. That was the sound of 50 Christmas cards dropping into the box at the post office Saturday afternoon. This morning the staff will be sending them off to Portland for the long, circuitous journey to mailboxes in Oregon, California, Washington, and a few other states. I may or may not receive cards in return. It’s really not a requirement. I don’t want people to hastily prepare a card for me just because I sent one to them. Only send me a card if you want to.
Before I started my cards this year, I put out a question on Facebook. Do people still send Christmas cards? Why or why not? My FB friends responded that they send cards because they enjoy receiving cards and like to keep in touch with people they don’t see very often. But some have quit and others are considering it because it costs too much, takes too much time, it’s easier to send a greeting online, and fewer people are doing it.
So are Christmas cards, the paper kind that travel through snail mail, going out of style? Could be.
I decided to do it one more year and revisit the decision next year. I settled down with my address book, Christmas cards, Christmas mailing labels sent by various charities, and my Christmas stamps at a card table in front of the TV and got to work writing, signing, tucking, and stamping.
I have miserable handwriting. I like to say something personal on my cards, but my pen gets lost just writing Merry Christmas. I don’t know whether it’s arthritis, bad eyes, or a bad sector in my brain. In years past, I have sent elaborate newsletters, pictures and poems. But what do I have to report this year? No big trips, no big prizes, no kids or grandkids to boast about. Just living my ordinary life. So I typed a list of what that entailed and tucked it into my cards.
The highlights of my year included playing music for over 100 Masses at Sacred Heart Church, including too many funerals; getting a few poems published, putting out new editions of Azorean Dreams and Stories Grandma Never Told, being a finalist in a chapbook contest, writing approximately 100 blog posts for Unleashed in Oregon and Childless by Marriage; traveling to Arizona and California, reading 70 books, walking the dog about 300 times, and becoming a great aunt to Riley Kay Fagalde.
You use what you’ve got. Should I mention the numerous friends and relatives who have died? I decided not to.
There are so many other decisions to make. Do I send cards to former students, editors, writer acquaintances, or just family and friends? To the dog-sitter and chiropractor? What qualifies a friend to be Christmas card-worthy? Do I keep sending cards to friends of my late husband whom I never really cared for?
Do I sign the cards as just “Sue” or qualify that with my last name or an explanation that I’m their cousin they barely know? Do I add Annie’s name on some of the cards? (I do). I used to get a charge out of having a family of names to sign when I had a husband and live-in stepson, plus a dog. Now it’s just me. Somehow that feels like a failure.
There’s the choice of card, too. Religious? Carefully non-religious? Dog cards? Let’s see, are they Christians? Do I send cards to my Jewish friends? Oh wait, I don’t have any Jewish friends anymore. But I do have gay friends, divorced friends, widowed friends, and, God help us, Republican friends. Must choose the appropriate card with a sentiment inside that will not offend anyone.
Also must find the correct address. Are you like me, with certain friends and relatives who keep moving or who only connect online so you don’t know where they actually live? I always have a couple of cards that never get sent because I can’t find the addresses.
I also have some cards that go out late after I receive cards from people I never expected to send them. Which takes us back to my earlier comment that I don’t want people to feel obligated to send me a card just because I send them one. Yet I always respond to a card with a card. Am I not keeping the vicious cycle going forever with people I don’t care that much about? What if I just did nothing?
So the cards are in the mail. I have received three for me so far. They’re sitting on the kitchen table because I’m not sure what to do with them. Once cards arrive, where do you put them? Do you hang them on a wall or a door or a mantel? Paste them in a scrapbook? Turn them into craft projects?
I still have all of the cards I received last year. I don’t want to throw them away, but I don’t know what to do with them. Once upon a time, a friend showed me how to make cute little boxes from used Christmas cards. I ended up with 50 paper boxes for which I had absolutely no use. But they were adorable. What do you do with your old Christmas cards? I welcome suggestions. And how will you display the ones you receive this year? Are you still sending them out? What makes you keep doing it? Let’s talk about it.
Oh, and Merry Christmas to all of you. Thank you for being here.