Monday, December 7, 2009

The Christmas Card Habit

Back in the olden days, I believe that Christmas cards were a great way to stay in touch with family and friends who you rarely (if ever) saw, spoke to, or wrote to on a regular basis throughout the year. Each December, a person could sit down and go through their address book (you know, the kind with a black cover and paper in it that people actually used their own handwriting to record each address), and start writing names on each card, thinking of that person and knowing that they would be happy to receive a card from someone they otherwise would not hear from. Perhaps a family picture was included. Perhaps a family letter, complete with all of little Johnny's accomplishments through the year or the promotion that the husband received.

I do remember these as a kid. Seeing pictures and receiving cards from those who moved away, from those we never called or saw. It was a great way to keep in touch and know that they still thought of us. And we still thought of them - and they knew this by the card we sent.

Now this may seem a little Ebenezer Scrooge-ish of me, but this year I just can't bring myself to send cards.

I've been rethinking the entire process. I thought of all these years that I've been married, on my own, a real adult, and have sent cards to many friends and family. I sometimes included pictures. I think I wrote a family letter once.

But the problem is, as I look through my address list (the one on my computer...not a handwritten one...I don't even have a handwritten one) I would say that about 95% of these people are in touch with me via the internet. Whether it's email or facebook, these people know what my kids look like and know what I'm up to. They know I've been a stay-at-home mom for three years. They know Josh is still teaching in St. James. They know even more about me now that I started a blog.

So I wonder. What is the real point of sending them a card?

What is the point of the Christmas card station at church? For years (and we did this "back home" too) our church has had this station, and the point is to save the money you would have otherwise used for stamps and give it to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering. Great idea, but I've been thinking lately...why do we give cards to people we see on a weekly basis (and sometimes more than just once a week)?

Have we lost the meaning of the Christmas card? Or have I lost my mind? If I tell you "Merry Christmas" in person and give you a hug, isn't that more special?

Of course, there's the issue of all the paper we're wasting using to send these cards to people. What do you do with these cards when the Christmas season is over? Ah...the trash can. A great place for those season's greetings.

Yes, this all seems a bit cynical on my part, and I apologize. I have a feeling that I won't be receiving as many cards this year after this post. And it's ok. I know I'm still loved.

As for me, I'm breaking my Christmas card habit.

Oh, except for my childhood babysitter who is in her 90's and doesn't have internet. I might send her one...complete with a picture.

21 comments:

Casie Dempsey said...

I could not agree more when it comes to this topic. This morning my cousin emailed me just to make sure she had my mailing address correct so that they could send out their Christmas Card. Now, they just had amazing new family photos done, BUT...

We talk on Facebook almost every single day. I will see her in two weeks four out annual family christmas party. It just made me wonder why everyone sends them or if maybe I should be sending them...as if this was some part of my adult life that I had been neglecting. But...as I said, a hug when I see them is much better than some card that will be tossed aside.

Mrs. Haid said...

I could not disagree more!

I love getting Christmas cards because I know it took time and effort to select, address,and mail them. I actually count them as gifts from people and for people!

I think I am a card person though, and I do appreciate when others make nonverbal contact in a tangible way, like with letters or something to let me know they care.

I also think of this as a witnessing opportunity, when I select religious cards that have Christmas blessings on them, and not just a Santa.

I think Christmas cards are a way for me to give an individual shout out to people and let them feel loved.

That's my opinion! And email me your address so I can send you from our house! :o)

Mrs. Haid said...

Oh, I save cards, too. I rarely throw them out! Except for ones from our bank or something. I really like to look at them! I think its a personality thing!

Tina said...

I actually agree with Bethany -
I keep them after the holiday - in a drawer in my filing cabinet and have since we have been married -
I also have all the cards from flowers I received since 3rd Grade-
all my birthday cards -
Our wedding shower/ baby shower, etc. cards.
And I have an envelope to stash all the boys birthday cards for them ....
but I don't hold it against people who toss em out
but I love to send and receive them....
and I put yours in the mail today - sorry !

Chrissy said...

I used to feel that way, Bethany.

Chrissy said...

Tina...I used to keep cards, but 10 years from now, what on earth would I do with them? Why would I need them? I only rarely keep a card now, like I have one from my grandpa that was hand written...he passed away in 2006. I'm glad I kept it and had a feeling I should.

Jessica said...

There is just something special about going to your mailbox and seeing those red and green envelopes! I absolutely love sending and receiving Christmas cards and I keep all of mine. I look back through them from time to time and I always enjoy all the personal messages that people took the time to write. Christmas cards are one of my favorite things about the holidays!

Chrissy said...

You're all making me feel bad! ;o)

Nel said...

So sorry Chrissy... but I love getting and sending Christmas cards too :) I agree with Jessica about finding Christmas cards in your mailbox! I just love getting them and usually keep them for awhile.
We still have all our cards from our wedding and the girls births and birthdays :)

kimberly anderson said...

I love getting them, but I am horrible about sending them out. So if someone gives me one and they don't receive one in return I am sorry. I don't know what it is, but I can't seem to get it together when it comes to giving cards.

Mrs. Haid said...

I always feel a bit sad when there are no cards in the mailbox in December, because I LOVE MAIL! Also, I found a really neat scrapbook of cards from the early 1900s in a relative's house. I think that might be what I do with all the cards I have! They are certainly neat to see since they are so old and special. Plus, if someone pays 4 bucks for a birthday card, I feel bnad for tossing it out so quickly!

Chrissy said...

You would never receive a $4 card from me. I always look in the 99¢ section...ha!

Causey Fam said...

I am with Kim. I enjoy getting them, but am not very good at sending them out! I do keep them with all my Christmas things until I pull the tree out the next year, look through them once more, and then toss. I always have good intentions about a Christmas letter/picture or card and sometimes they happen and sometimes they don't.

Emily said...

You bring up some interesting points! As tech-savvy and pro-internet as I am, I've never considered this before. It really does seem like an outdated tradition. I'm not saying I don't like sending and receiving cards...but when you think about it, it does seem kind of silly to send a card to someone who you talk to on fb everyday! I do like getting the ones with photos, though...but usually I've seen the photos online already :) I guess I'm officially "on the fence" about this one.

Tina said...

Bethany - tell me more about this Scrapbook for the cards - I am interested....

accesskas27 said...

My opinion is this... i love christmas cards for many reasons already mentioned... witnessing opportunities.... makes you feel good... takes time, and therefore feels like a gift being given/received, but also because I don't have hard copies of photos of families and friends, and that's an opportunity to recieve one of those. I know a lot of people who know what my kids look like and stuff, but this is an oppotunity to actually give them a hard copy. :-) I think anything that you lose sight of why, can seem confusing... and it's not for everyone... i don't give out nearly as many as I recieve... time and money make it difficult... don't feel bad though... you are unique and it's ok if you don't feel like sending them out. :-) :-)

accesskas27 said...

and i don't mean just you is unique, we all have different personalities.... and i know many people that don't give christmas cards... and i don't think any differently of them. :-) I haven't done it every year.... but I try.. :-)

Susan said...

Wow--I thought I was the only one who still had cards from 40 plus years ago..I had an Aunt (From St. James) that NEVER threw away any cards..guess it is in the family..I have to see the perfect card for Christmas to send and I have not found it this year..the one I love..don't think I should send two years in a row..

Mindy said...

I love sending and receiving snail mail! Although I'm not really sending out my own Christmas cards yet...I could see myself doing it someday. And I thought I'd add my opinion anyway! :)
I think we should still stick with some old traditions and not let the internet replace other ways of communicating.
I also think it's nice when people write individual messages on Christmas cards, otherwise I don't think they have much of a special meaning. It would take more time, yes, but I think it's worth it. Otherwise, I feel like just another person in their "address book." If people are just sending cards out of feelings of obligation, I don't think they should send them.
I do see how it is kind of environmentally unfriendly, but I've heard of ways you can reuse them. I also like to keep old cards, pictures, and letters. But it could become too much.

Jackie said...

hehe complete with a picture

Ashley said...

I love sending and recieving as well. Although we always do New Years Cards because I can't ever get my act together during this busy season! So...expect mine in January! :0)

I also keep all of mine that have anything more than just a signature in them and I keep all the pictures too!!!

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