Once upon a time I sent out Christmas cards. Lots of Christmas cards. I’m talking about numbers over 100. That was a long time ago. I had to start working on them in early November so that I could put a personal message in each and every one, and then mail them out within the proper time frame (the day after Thanksgiving, of course). It was poor etiquette to just sign my name and not write something more; not only that, but I felt it just was not personal enough. At one point I even went so far as to hand-make them myself, and then I literally had to start working on them before Halloween.
While I sent out a multitude of cards, I found that I only received a fraction back. So over time, the amount of cards I sent started to dwindle down. After all, I could not see putting in that amount of effort to not have it even acknowledged. Not to mention, the amount of money cards and stamps cost. Then I had kids and the time factor cut deeper into my annual ritual. Writing something personal became too time consuming with a baby to chase after. For the first time ever, I opted to go the less personal route and order pre-printed cards with our names in them. I still wanted to share the growth of my children, so I added annual photos of them. I couldn’t believe I had sunk so low as to not make my cards more personal. But this was faster and easier, albeit not cheap… in fact it was more expensive than ever. And the amount of cards I received in return continued to drop.
Once or twice I returned to older habits and I had my daughter’s Christmas drawings turned into cards. They are my favorite to date. But these were more expensive than the pre-printed cards and resulted in me dropping my numbers even further. When you spend $30 to send 10 Christmas cards, it is just too much to keep a long mailing list. My list dropped down to only the closest of family of friends.
Move forward a couple of years, and I adjusted my annual habit once again. Now I was down to sending a family photo card. It would prove to be the easiest option to that point, and it saved me from buying extra photos of the kids to put into my Christmas cards. However, while I was saving money on individual kids photos and saving money on buying less stamps, the cost of getting the photos taken proved to be more expensive than the cards ever were. So as I found with the children’s art cards, less did not necessarily equal frugal.
Then somewhere, somehow, I cannot remember exactly when, I just stopped. It may have been about 2010, when I wrote an earlier Christmas Card blog (see here). But I simply stopped, and I have not regretted it or thought about it since. Until today. Today I received a message from an old friend on Facebook. She was asking for my address so she could send me a Christmas card. I immediately had thoughts of guilt. Should I send cards? Did I want to go through this again? Not really. So I turned to what I know best…writing and poetry. Providing both a holiday wish and an apology, I posted the poem below in the hopes it will be received with understanding that while a card may not arrive in your mailbox from me, it does not mean I think any less of you.
My poem was met with the best reply from my dear friend Lori: “Thank you for not sending me a card!! Because then I feel emotionally attached to it because I love you too so I have to keep it and then I become a hoarder and then I end up on some TLC show having to deal with loved ones trying to throw my precious Christmas card from Kris away. You’re really so, so sweet to save me all that heart ache.”
Lori, I completely understand your attachment and feel your pain. You also reminded me that receiving Christmas cards presented a problem for me as well. I could not throw away the cards I received either; however, what was I suppose to do with them? Each year they would be packed up with my Christmas decorations just to surface the next year. Did I look at them the following year? No. They just got shuffled from box to box year after year. Finally, one year I took a big step and donated them to my children’s preschool for the kids to use for Christmas crafts. It was a small step at first. I selected only cards that did not hold much sentimental value or those from people who were mere acquaintances. I did not want to part with the other cards. I repeated my donation the next year. This time I gave a few more away. By the third year, I realized how silly it was of me to hold on to these dust collecting pieces of paper and held my breath as I donated them all. I was relieved to find that it was not the end of the world the day after I gave these treasures up. No, in fact, my life did not change one bit.
So Lori and all of the rest of you who understand, I am so eternally grateful that I don’t have to send you a card. And honestly, my feelings won’t be hurt if you do not send me one either. I love you regardless.