It’s the middle of December and the Christmas cards are starting to arrive. Goodie! I love them. I like to display the cards we receive on our library shelves amidst the books. They’re great, one of my favorite things about Christmas. Sure, I like the Christmas music and I get plenty of it teaching piano and directing a Children’s Church choir.
And I enjoy all sorts of other Christmas things…
things like baking Christmas cookies and decorating the dining tables with crystal reindeer and Pomegranetes. I like pulling out a Teddy Bear in his December sweater, decorating the Christmas tree and setting out another lit tree to brighten up the foyer. I enjoy all sorts of Seasonal plants, setting paper whites on my secretary desk and trimming the mantels with fresh greens, but being a letter writer there’s nothing I enjoy more then sending and receiving Christmas cards.
When I’m ready to write out our cards I put some Christmas music on, make a cup of coffee or tea and spread out the cards I’m planning to send so I can hand pick different cards for different people, but I can get a little frustrated because I know I’ll never have the time to write everyone I care for at Christmas … not in the busy days of December… not writing cards with personal messages the way I like to write them.
I remember watching my Mom write out her Christmas cards. Mom was a lovely and very caring person, but the task of sending out lots of cards to a huge family put her in an efficient work mode not a holly jolly Christmas mode. She approached the job in an assembly line manner. Mom first signed her name to all the cards, she then stamped all the envelopes, then penned all the addresses. Her heart was in a good place but not with each person she was writing.
I can’t write Christmas cards or any cards that way. To me each card is an opportunity to think about the person I’m writing. This takes time, but it’s delightful time spent! It’s not a job to me. It’s pure fun! I like to write a note inside the card or maybe a long message.
Sometimes I like to draw a little something on the card and if I’m writing to one of my friends I always use sealing wax with my personal “C”stamp for Carol Ann. If the card happens to be from both my husband and me I’ll use a stamp with our “M” initial for McCarthy. Christmas cards going to my pen friends rate a letter inside the card (and I have a lot of pen friends) so unless I go off to our outbuilding and hide away for a few weeks everyone I care about can not possibly get a Christmas card. Oh dear.
What to do?
I guess we all have to come up with our own solutions.
Some good people, like my dear pen friend Greg, take the time to write a holiday letter to everyone on their list. It’s typed and copied. I’m sure composing this sort of letter takes a lot of time and I’m honored to be on Greg’s Christmas list and the list of other people as well. I really am, but I’m not fond of most Christmas letters. Greg’s letter was different, better, because he wrote a paragraph in that letter about me and our pen friendship. That personal touch left me with a smile and a good feeling. Greg’s Christmas letter brought me joy and isn’t that what we want our Christmas cards and letters to do?
Unfortunately many Christmas letters fail to offer any kind and loving words to their recipients. They’re filled with me, me and more me. I may care about the person who is writing this letter to me (and a million others), but such Christmas letters don’t make me feel warm and fuzzy in any way. In fact, if those letters are filled with only the great accomplishments and good fortunes of the writer’s last year, well, they can be a little depressing. I can begin to wonder how my year measures up to their year.
So how will I handle the subject of Christmas cards?
There’s no way I can send a personal card or letter to everyone I care about in the month of December and I’m not about to create Christmas letters all about me and my family.
But this is what I can do.
I can enjoy making a list (and checking it twice) to be sure everyone I care about gets their name on that list. Next I will declare one day each week as the day to send a special card containing a letter (or at least a special note) to someone on that list. I’ll keep a log of who gets what when. In the course of a whole year I should be able to reach 50 to 100 additional people.
Each week a card may go out to someone with a birthday or anniversary. I may hear of a friend or relative who is feeling poorly, someone who has had an operation or lost a loved one, someone who needs encouragement or congratulations. These would be the people to get an extra card or letter that week.
A holiday may be approaching – Easter, Halloween, Memorial Day. Why not send a few greeting cards for each holiday? Why should Christmas be the only holiday when cards are sent to friends and relatives? That’s silly. We can care about people all through the year not only in December, the busiest month of all.
And even if there’s no special day coming up who needs a special day to send a card and letter? Any time is a good time to think of others and let them know we care about them.
Though I wish I could send a zillion Christmas cards out this month, I can’t. I will however enjoy writing and sending cards and letters all through the year. I have my regular pen friends, but so many other people are also important to me and deserve to be remembered. Spreading joy and love is a twelve month proposition. And when we give (love) good things come back to us. (More love).
We all have our own approach to Christmas cards. I don’t expect everyone to do as I do, but I hope you enjoy spreading the cheer by sending some cards out to those you love. It would be a shame if this gracious old world custom went by the wayside.
May I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
(just in case I don’t get a card off to you this month)
But maybe a card will arrive when you least suspect it.
Till that time