My Christmas cards are a major pain. Every year, I swear I'm never going to do them again. And every year, I decide they're worth doing. I have three rules that I stick to. Originally posted in December of 2008.
There are a hundred drudgeries about the holidays that ultimately seem worth it. Family traditions are kept, childhood memories are made. But there is one thing, year after year, that I question: Christmas Cards.
Are they antiquated? With email and social networking sites making it so easy to view your long-lost-friend's life, there is really no more need to squeal over how big their kids are getting. And now everyone feels the need to send out so many cards that there are rarely personal holiday letters included.
I do love receiving Christmas cards, pouring over a person's choice of pictures and paper and simply the satisfaction of opening something that came in the mail. I like arranging them on the bookshelf, picking my favorite ones, laughing at the originality of some. I imagine other households doing the same with mine.
So every year, I just can't let myself skip it. It's sort of become a game with myself, how I can top last year's card. I like my Christmas card to be pretty silly, to stand out from the crowd. I'm thirty one and I still like to rate the level of cringe I can bring to my parents. I think they pretty much hold their breath for it every year.
I have a few rules that make up a quality card. I look for them with every one I receive. Don't worry if you don't happen to follow these. I'll barely notice. Really.
1. There must be a picture, and if you have kids it must not be of only the kids. More than likely, I don't even know your kids. I want to see a picture of the whole family. If you're not pictured, I assume you look radically different from the last time I saw you. Then I wonder if I look radically different from the last time you saw me, and I get all insecure about it. Okay, not really, but it irks me to adorn my mantle with pictures of children I don't know.
2. A pen must have hit the paper at some point, even if it's just an original signature. Bonus points for a personal message. Friend for life if you have a Christmas letter inside, typed or not. I love those.
3. No address labels. What a pain I am, right? But there is such a warm touch to hand-addressed envelopes, and I believe this for whatever you're sending. Computer labels hardly lets me differentiate it from any of the other mail.
I guess my argument with myself each December is that my cards are little gifts to our far-flung friends and family. They're more than an email, and personal in a way a store-bought gift isn't. Of course, I'm also very much a paper person.
Will you do Christmas cards this year? Is this a tradition that should fade into the glittery garland?