Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas cards: to send or not to send?

Yes, it's that time of year again....the time when you hear (even if only in your head) the age-old question: Do I send Christmas cards this year, or do I skip it?

Over the past week or so, I've been attempting, with some success, to go through all of our boxes of Christmas "Stuff" - the tree decorations, the wreaths, the tree decorations, the bags of holiday-themed gift bags, the tree decorations, the box of "Christmas mugs", and on, and on.  There is still a full box of tree decorations yet to be opened, and in my opinion, the tree would look just fine without putting that 100 extra things on it.  Granted, there are some slightly empty spaces, but to me that is perfectly okay.  As I said in a post a few days ago, putting the decorations up and out is so much fun...who is ever excited about packing them all up again?? Generally, NOT the people who were so excited to get them out in the first place.

I digress.

In the process of going through boxes, I came upon several collections of Christmas cards received in previous years.  One pack was actually dated 1992, and there were a few from 1994...both from before B and I were married.  Apparently in those years he was a lot more 'into' the sending/receiving/organization of these cards than he is now.  It was interesting, though, going through all these old cards.  Of course I found a handful which came from people I/we no longer talk to, or even remember in some cases...that happens, of course, with the sending of cards in the holiday season.  Probably every year, everyone sends and receives cards to/from people who are acting on the feelings of the time - a recent acquaintance, or someone you just recently worked with but won't be seeing anymore because of job changes, or if you run a business you're sending 'cards' to people who might be employing you at some point.  That's all to be expected.  I don't always keep those cards, and as I went through the last batch yesterday, I kept the pretty fronts of many cards which were generated out of situations like that.  I mean, you can't save them ALL - if you send and receive 50-100 Christmas cards every season, over just 3-4 years you will have a collection of several hundred cards....many of those from people you no longer see, no longer hear from, would never have picked up the phone to visit with in the first place. 

However, as I went through these old cards, I came upon between 5-10 cards which reflected important relationships which no longer exist, for various reasons.  I found several from elderly relatives or acquaintances who have since passed away; these made me pause, and think about those people, and about the last time I saw them, and how fleeting life really is.  I found one which is probably the last Christmas card from B's grandmother, signed in her own hand.  I saved that one; she passed away a few years ago.  Handwriting on a snail-mailed item is so rare these days that a card like that is extra special.  I found a few from two of my siblings, their spouses at the time, and their kids; those siblings have since gotten divorced, and reading those cards took me back.  If nothing else, Christmas cards remind you of the existence of people whose lives have touched yours in some way...sometimes in good ways, and yes, sometimes in less-than-positive ways.  Regardless, the card itself is, in a very basic way, a reminder of the tangible, living, breathing existence of your fellow human.  At some point, that person's hand picked up a pen and signed the card, or their hand at least touched the card in some way.  They inserted a photo, stuck on a sticker, attached a mailing label, put it in the mailbox.  At some point in their busy day, they thought of me

That's what a Christmas card some point in my frustratingly busy life, I thought of you.  You thought of me, by sending a card. An actual CARD, not an e-mail.  NOT a Facebook message.  Not an e-mailed Christmas card (which don't always work, anyway).

So, my vote on sending cards? Yes. Yes. Yes. Send them.  They indicate a moment in time when one human really thinks of another...and sometimes, for the recipient, that is the only time they have evidence that they lived, that anyone thought of them at all in a world that rushes and flies and scurries always to the next thing.
Send that brightly colored, glittery, simple, big, small, holiday card - even if all you write on the inside is "thinking of you, Merry Christmas".


No comments: