Archive for December 2011

The Fine Art of Christmas Carding

December 7, 2011

I got my first one just last week. A web friend in Minnesota posted it on Face book. The accompanying message said that although she ordered them every year they very rarely got mailed so she was posting it there as ‘insurance.’ Our second one came in the mailbox the very next day. It was from the family of a former Kindergarten student – who is now married and in medical school…gads! – and included a cheery note and snapshot of their very grown up family inside. I loved them both. I can’t help it. I confess. I am coming out of the mistletoe closet.

My name is Lynda and I am a Christmas Card-a-holic.

I absolutely love going through the daily mail and finding them. I Iove studying the pictures and the messages and wondering just what it was that drew the sender to that particular card. I especially love getting the added bonus of those ‘family letters’ inside. You know the ones. The longer versions of a personal message that generically bring you up to date about Little Joe’s achievements in baseball and Mandy’s adventures with her competitive dance team, the problems with the newest car and the gall bladder and the family sojourns on this cruise and that vacation. I love it all so bring it on.

I am not sure where this addiction came from. Christmas carding in my family has been sporadic at best. My parents usually had a box handy in order to send one when one was received. Christmas cards were taped to our closet door in the living room and added to the festive decorations. Sometimes they were saved after the holidays but usually not. Sometimes the pictures were cut off and given to our Sunday School to use for future projects. Most of the time those bits of news and good wishes ended up in the trash.

When I got married, the need to send my own became much stronger. My family and friend base had enlarged and I had actual people to send them to. I searched and searched to find the ‘perfect’ card. I made the hubby and the stepdaughters sign them after one late November dinner, enveloped them, stamped them and sent them off on the first of December. As the years went by and our lives got busier, I have to admit that Christmas cards took a lower stance on the priority list. Choosing the ‘right’ card became just grabbing one that was the ‘right’ price. When my son came along, it was easier to choose a favorite snapshot and order photo cards to send off. IF I sent them off. My favorite photo card was sent after that arrival of our daughter from Russia in 2000. He was in Santa gear and she was an elf.  Side by side faces.

Classic.

And then I started adding our own ‘family letter.’ It’s just a newsy note about D&N’s soccer accomplishments, the steps and the grandbabies, the new truck, the job changes, the kidney stones and this vacation and that.
I skipped a few years here and there. I had a telling conversation with a friend who confessed a dislike for ‘those’ letters. She felt like they were just ‘braggetty brag brag’ with no real information about what was actually going on with families. And then she, very tactfully, chipped in…’but not yours of course.’ I stopped sending the letters. And actual cards.

The next year I sent off e-cards from an internet service called ‘Jib Jab.’ Friends and families were treated to a short video with our faces on the bodies of dancing, guitar strumming Mexican elves singing ‘Feliz Navidad.’

It wasn’t the same.

The year after that I created a computer power point with pictures of the kids through the year set to ‘Jingle Bell Rock.’ I dutifully copied it, boxed them and sent them off to a select…very select and small….group of family and friends. It was very cool. And costly.

It wasn’t the same…..especially when I started getting emails about how recipients weren’t able to open the power point to watch it. Computer glitch on my part. Ugh.

So I went back to cards. Heavy duty, specially selected, card stock cards with an added ‘letter.’ Except this time, instead of a ‘braggety brag brag’ narrative, I used an online puzzle making program and created a crossword puzzle about our yearly antics. I rimmed the sheet with pictures of the kids and printed them at home. Classic.

However, when you are an elementary teacher, cards tend to be on the low end of the priority list. You are so busy with projects and school events that time slips away. One year, I sent them as New Year greetings and they were mailed after Christmas. Last year, the cards were a big deal because we had moved into a new home and needed to send our new address to friends and family. I sent them EARLY. This year….because the season has collided with the end of the semester grading process and my commitment to try and include a comment on every report card….I am just sending a snapshot card again. Sigh.

I have come to the conclusion that Christmas carding is a fine art. You have to find the ‘right’ card….even in the ½ off bin. You have to find your address book. You have to find the time in a busy schedule to address envelopes. You have to purchase stamps….and that’s a huge deal in these economic times. If you take the time to hand make your cards – as my talented stamper sister in law does – it is even more involved. If you write and print a letter, it takes more than a moment of your time. And that’s what it is…..time.

I think that I am a Christmas card-a-holic because I absolutely love the fact that someone, somewhere, took the time….a mere moment of their time considering ours was probably one of a stack…..to think about my family and to want to share the season’s greetings with us.

So we may not have a Christmas tree this year and the lights have not been hung on the garage, but I am sending my cards.

From our home – and heart – to yours….wherever it is.