Tuesday, December 20, 2011

To Card or Not to Card

Christmas cards have always been one of the special memories that I associate with this time of the year.  It's not always easy to take time from our busy lives throughout the year to keep in touch with friends and family who live far from us.  Oh, we have good intentions and may manage one or two notes but, eventually, the realities of our busy lives intrude and our good intentions slip away.  Suddenly, six months have gone by without a "hello" or "how have you been?"  But then Christmas arrives and, with it, all those lovely cards that bring us up to date on what's been happening in everyone's lives since the previous December.  I remember the excitement of opening each card and the fun of "catching up."  I remember stringing the cards above the fireplace mantle; the lovely display of joy and friendship that they made.  At least, that's how it used to be.

When I was young, my mom would spend hours penning personal notes in each Christmas card she mailed; a practice I have tried to make my own (though some years are less successful than others).  I look forward to sharing highlights of my year with people I don't speak with on a regular basis.  But...have you noticed how that's begun to change?  With the popularity of facebook, twitter, email, blogs and other social venues, instant updates have become de rigeur and that special quality of the Christmas card has begun to dim.  We no longer have to wait an entire year for that Christmas photo to see how the kids have grown, or the bright smiles of those who no longer wear braces.  We only have to click on the photo tab of our friends' facebook walls for instant access. Will Christmas cards soon become one of those "dated" traditions we tell our children about that happened "back in the day?"

Do you send out Christmas cards?  Do you write personal notes in them?  What about the cards you receive?  Do you display them or have a special container for them?  Do you keep them or toss them when the season is over?  

Another tradition that seems to have fallen by the wayside, at least among those who mail me cards, is the famous (infamous?) Christmas letter.  You know the one.  The one, two or sometimes three page letter that details every activity, award, trip and other highlight of a family's year?  It's been a couple years since I received one and, contrary to the ridicule these letters receive from comedians world-wide, I miss them.  Sure, not everyone is interested in the fact that Johnny won the Pine Box Derby or Susie got a medal in track but I enjoyed these little tidbits - and I enjoyed reading about them while curled up in front of the fire with a cup of hot chocolate in one hand and your letter in the other. 

Now, don't get me wrong.  I love my computer.  I rejoice in the friendships I've made through the internet and the technology that allows me to "talk" to friends on the other side of the world in an instant.  But, in certain situations, I'm very much a traditionalist.  I want the joy of finding an envelope from a treasured friend in my mailbox.  I want the anticipation of opening the envelope and discovering a beautiful card with a personal note from that friend penned in their own distinctive handwriting, as neat or sloppy as it may be.  I want the celebration of love and friendship that is signified by that extra attention. 

What about you?  Do you think traditional Christmas cards have a limited shelf life?  Are we approaching the end of that life?  What's your opinion of the stereotypical Christmas letter?  Have you ever sent one?

~PJ


22 comments:

  1. Good morning, ladies. I love sending and receiving Christmas cards. It's one of my favorite Christmas traditions. I send them out the first week of December- yes, I said the first week of December :) I really enjoy looking at the cards I received on my mantle. As for Christmas letters- yes! I still get a few of those.

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  2. Hi Okie! I checked in before leaving for work and there you were! :)

    Good for you on getting your cards out early. I try to do that every year (I really do!) but rarely am I successful. I'll be finishing mine this week. Only about 20 more to go though so almost there! :)

    I haven't received any Christmas letters yet but I'm having a lovely time enjoying the photos and notes in the ones that have arrived so far.

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  3. I guess I am of the "old school" in that I continue to send and receive Christmas cards. Many of these are sent to my husband's elderly aunts and uncles who are not computer literate. I think until everyone is "literate," Christmas cards will not go away.

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  4. I do send out Christmas Cards and do put a personal note in each one if I can. I don't miss the "Christmas Letters" because some of them were just a bit much...lol....I do collect the cards but don't display them because of not having the space for it. I'm going to be making a card holder for next year though so that i can show them off.

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  5. I used to send out over 100 Christmas cards, but have since dropped that to about 60. I still have Denmark letters to write, but will send a New Year's card instead of a Christmas card. When I was single, I had my cards mailed on December 1st, but now....well, I did get them mailed all last week. Partly due to the fact that I didn't have my daughter's Christmas photo printed and ready to go.

    I do letters along with the cards. This year I just wrote a quick blurb about everyone, but I have done some fun things in the past. Last year, I wrote a poem in the style of "The Night Before Christmas" and have written poems in years past. One other year I created a crossword puzzle about the year in our household. I even have a name for our letter (and I use it for parent notes, too)....Hinshaw Happenings.

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  6. Other than work with just a signature I have not given or received actual cards for years. I don't think I ever received a newsletter but "the family" were all located close to each other so we already knew what was happening with each other.
    I loved the card, mother would put them around the door then start on the window frames when I was growing up. It would take her forever to choose her cards, she didn't like to send out the same card to everyone so there were generally several of the small boxes so she could mix them up.

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  7. I like Christmas cards a lot. I still send them out and I love receiving them. We have a red basket to put them in during the season.

    We send out Christmas letters (inside the cards) once in a while--maybe every 5 years or so. Otherwise, it's handwritten notes. Merry Christmas!

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  8. PJ, I love to send and receive Christmas cards! In the last decade, the number of cards I've sent/received has decreased, but I still love them. It's a tradition that I hope never goes away, but probably will.

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  9. I do send out Christmas cards every year, didn't send as many this year because I didn't have time to do so. I have had to much going on this years and haven't had as much time.

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  10. Connie said, Many of these are sent to my husband's elderly aunts and uncles who are not computer literate. I think until everyone is "literate," Christmas cards will not go away.

    I would hope that even then they don't all go away but that's probably wishful thinking.

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  11. Maria said, I'm going to be making a card holder for next year though so that i can show them off.

    That's a great idea!

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  12. Deb said, I have done some fun things in the past. Last year, I wrote a poem in the style of "The Night Before Christmas" and have written poems in years past. One other year I created a crossword puzzle about the year in our household.

    What great ideas!

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  13. Dianna, it takes me a while to choose my cards too. When one of my brothers (in another state) got the card I had sent, he called me laughing because he chose the exact same card to send out this year! lol!

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  14. Merry Christmas, LSU Reader!

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  15. It's a tradition that I hope never goes away, but probably will.

    I feel the same, Andrea.

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  16. Virginia, I can relate. I've been working 40 hour weeks since Thanksgiving and that's severely limited my time for Christmas card writing. :(

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  17. it has been so long i did not send christmas card anymore ;(

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  18. We used to send many cards every Christmas, each with a personal note, but haven't managed many the past few years. We haven't sent the letters, but most people we get cards frome include them. It is nice catching up with the new of those we don't see often. We recycle the cards we get. We have sent them to a school and used them for craft projects at home and at work.

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  19. I only send out a few Christmas cards. I know there are family members who look forward to them. I do send some e-cards as well.

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  20. Hi PJ,
    I'm with you, I enjoy receiving Christmas cards and traditional letters in the mail. There's a sense of intimacy that accompanies them that doesn't exist in an e-mail or status update. The art of letter writing is disappearing which makes me very sad. I still write e-mails like a letter just because I can.
    I send Christmas cards regardless of time and expense mostly to those whom I only hear from through a letter or phone call (there are folks in the world who still don't have computers). In fact, I used to make my own so they were totally personalized but it became too time consuming.
    This year, I sent many more e-cards than usual but Jacquie Lawson does 'em right so I feel good about sending those.
    I've received way less this year than normal, too, but display them proudly. I usually send that crazy letter with a picture of the dog doing something silly on it but this yr I ran out of time ... had lots to tell with the birth of my blog and being nearly finished with a WIP, too ... but ran out of time.
    One pet peeve I have is getting a card and all it has written inside is a name ... not even a 'Hi'! Duh, why bother?
    Merry Christmas Everyone!

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  21. I do still send and like to receive Christmas cards. I've never sent or received a Christmas letter though. I don't think that's ever been a tradition here.

    Happy holidays everyone.

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  22. I have gotten back into sending Christmas cards - I think it's especially important for the people we aren't seeing around the holidays. The year always seems to go by so fast, and sometimes it's the only contact I have with people. Happy Holidays to all!

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