I’ve made a decision. On the recommendation of my friend Betsy, I’m sending Valentine’s Day cards this year. Said another way, I’m not sending Christmas cards.
I love to receive Christmas cards. I love to see how my friends’ kids changed in a year’s time. Who went through a growth spurt, who changed from toddler to little boy, who started out looking like Mom and now looks like Dad. And I know that you have to give to receive.
But the holidays can be crazy and stressful (I always feel like for one month, Christmas adds a full-time job on top of the two full-time jobs and many part-time jobs I already have.) So it’s really important for me to focus on activities that feed my soul. Things that bring me joy, things that are becoming traditions within our family, things that help me connect with the people I love, and things that help me connect with my Higher Power. And far from feeding my sould, sending Christmas cards is, for me, one big soul-sucking adventure. For one thing, there are just too many steps involved. Step 1 – get the kids into nice clothes that sort of match. Step 2 – get the kids to pose for a picture, preferably in front of the tree. Step 3 – select a photo and order the prints. Step 4 – buy the cards. Step 5 – write a Christmas letter (or even worse, write a message on each card). Step 6 – put the address label and the return label on. Step 7 – put the stamps on. Step 8 – go to the post office and mail the goddamn things. I always feel like crying “uncle” around Step 5, but I can’t really stop there after I’ve put so much effort into it already.
There are so many other things I enjoy doing to prepare for Christmas, and some that I don’t but aren’t optional. I love trimming the tree, I love baking cookies, I love singing in our annual Advent Lessons and Carols program at church. (Did I say “so many other things”? I meant “3”.) I don’t love shopping and I detest wrapping, but I pretty much have to do those things or I’d be extremely unpopular in my house.
I can’t just eliminate sending cards altogether, or I fear I’ll be dropped from everyone’s Christmas card list within two years. And in addition to those photos, I do enjoy that once-a-year catch-up that the Christmas cards bring from far-away friends who…now…all…happen…to…be…my…friends….on…Facebook…and…know…every…detail…
On second thought, never mind. Bye-bye cards, Christmas or Valentine’s Day. You served your purpose, but you’re now gone from my life forever.