The Lazy Mother and Holiday Cards

I’ll have that recipe up tomorrow, along with a bonus spinach recipe.  But, today is Hump Day, and Julie asks us to write about making new friends but keeping the old. 

Hump Day Hmm   25day3.jpg

Part two of an occasional series 

            I do not like opening the mail.  In fact, when J travels, the mail usually sits on the hallway shelf for days until he returns and picks it up.  He loves mail, so I leave it all for him to open.  Truly, if someone wanted to send me anthr@x, she would have to find a more effective method than the postal service.

            There are, however, certain exceptions.  I am in charge of baby announcements and wedding invitations.  (Lately we seem to only be getting the former; everyone got married while I was delivering children.)  I record the birth dates, send the baby gifts, and coo over the pictures.  I caress the wedding invitations and sigh as I imagine what the wedding will be like before replying that, no, sadly we cannot make a transatlantic flight with a newborn for a wedding on Rosh Hashanah.  I peruse the registries, deciding whether the bride is too much of a klutz to be trusted with fine china and then choosing the gift we most want to picture the happy couple using.

            And, I am in charge of holiday cards.  I adore holiday cards, even the absurdly Christmasy ones.  I read every last word of every last family holiday letter, no matter how many single-spaced pages it may be.  I pore over the pictures, deciding which parent which child has started to resemble and which little girl is too beautiful to be allowed out of the house when she reaches the tween years.  I arrange the cards for display all around the living room, balancing those picture-postcard thingies against the sturdier, two-sided ones. 

            Two of my favorites arrived in 2004.  First, from my friend C, who lives in DC but has a husband originally from Boston.  Their two little boys were featured on the cover, dressed in all their Red Sox finery, and inside the card read “We believed.”  The second card came from our neighbors just across the street.  Also originally from Boston, E is an artist, so she made a cover that had the words “Red Sox” etched into snowflakes.  Inside, it simply read “2004, the year hell froze over.”

            If someone wanted to send me anthr@x, holiday cards might be her only opportunity.  I love how the pour in from around the U.S. and beyond.  Texas, Florida, North Carolina.  I love how they bring tidings from people we have not seen in half a decade.  California, Vancouver, Iowa.  I love how they remind me of people I have cared for and still hold a tiny place for in my heart.  Massachusetts, South Carolina, Georgia.  I love how they keep that little thread of connection between old friends.  New Jersey, Virginia, Germany.  I love when new friends are added, a promise of becoming old friends in time.  New York, Wisconsin, Indiana.

            Our holiday card list runs to the hundreds.  We move so much and we keep adding people.  We never seem to subtract.  At last count, the list covered about 300 people and a quarter of the states.  It got to the point where we could no longer write out each card and we began ordering pre-printed ones with a whole letter inside and a picture of our progeny on the cover.  Even that is time-consuming, what with getting the right picture, composing the letter, and updating all the addresses.  And you do not need me to explain how expensive it can run.

            Yet, I kept doing it.  I loved the idea of connecting to old friends, colleagues, and teachers.  I loved the old-fashionedness of it all.  My lazy, cheap self was competing with my extroverted, longing-for-connections self, and my lazy, cheap self was losing.  Even when I wanted to stop, I felt guilty, as though people would be angry we had stopped.  We had entered a social system, and I sort of felt like we were not allowed to exit.  It was the Jean-Paul Sarte holiday card dilemma.

            Those of you who know me IRL will stop at this point and wonder.  “I haven’t gotten a card from them in years.  Am I the only one who has been cut off the list?”  No, honey, you’re not.  Because my lazy, cheap self found an ally: my environmental self.

            Holiday cards take paper.  They take energy to produce.  They take fuel to deliver.  They create piles of waste when the season is over.  My environmental self took on my guilty self, leaving my lazy, cheap self the clear victor.  So, we stopped sending holiday cards.  And birthday cards, because you know I was also sending out well over 100 of those a year.

            We do send out birth announcements and a card with a picture, an update, and a new address every few years when J’s company uproots us and lands us in another country.  But, the era of holiday cards is over.  Maybe a group email…

            I hope I still get a few family holiday letters, just for old time’s sake.  

15 responses to “The Lazy Mother and Holiday Cards

  1. I don’t feel FANTASTIC for being supportive!! Thanks for the comment. I think it’s going to be tough getting through all this without going crazy!!


  2. So THAT’s why nobody gave me fine china for the wedding! And yes, I think that email might be the way to go.

  3. That is a LOT of Christmas cards. I make ours, so I think my hands would fall off and my brain would start swirling with 300 of them.

  4. I’ve been trying to decide if I’m doing cards this year or not… It doesn’t make sense because we don’t even have a decent picture at this point. Thank you for providing a lovely excuse.

  5. 300! Good God, woman!

    (We send maybe 75. But then, I am willing to trim the list now and again, say, if someone has died, LOL!)

  6. Last year I skipped the cards. This year I’m doing it again. Only 60 though.

    I have an issue with it not being green also.

    I used to display the cards up on crystal garland. This year they are going into a basket and if someone wants to look at them be my guest.

  7. oooh. i moved to ecards a couple of years ago out of laziness, but the environmental angle now gives me reason to preen over my thoughtful holiday conservation of resources. 🙂

  8. Good gravy! 300!

    I honestly and sincerely do not know how you manage to run a life in the present and keep up so well with the past.

    I am a failure in that, I guess…if you can call it a failure.

    I do love the cards…the handmade ones, the photos, the letters with life updates. But mine are cursory at best: a printed photo with generic year’s end greeting. And I doubt I ever send more than 100.

    That’s a good new term for me to add: Christmas Card friend. I like tiers, and now I have three: Friend, Friend-Lite, Acquaintance, Christmas Card Friend, and People I Used to Know.

    And this post…until you got the the volume of people, I was 100% with you. So well put.

    Using My Words

  9. I’m trying to decide if I’m doing the cards or not. We don’t have a picture or anything like that. And my letters are, shall we say, a bit on the sarcastic side. I even did a multiple choice test once. But that kind of creativity takes a level of effort that I’m not sure I’m up for these days.

    But 300? You could fight a battle with those types of numbers!

  10. I’m still breaking all the rules and sending Christmas cards. I like keeping in touch with friends that I only ever hear from through these yearly cards. Take care. Kellan

  11. This is the first year that I’m considering not sending out Christmas cards, and it is really hard. I love receiving them, and sending/receiving an email is just not the same. Perhaps we can purchase environmental offsets?

  12. Let me curtsy and say thanks for the shout out! 🙂 We will be sending cards out again this year, and you will notice that for the fourth year running E will be donning some sort of Red Sox gear.

  13. Well we spend a weekend for sending cards to friends and family. Yeah it costs but keep in touch with em is priceless. 🙂

  14. I love sending cards – I have a wonderful idea for one for this year, but my husband thinks it’s too much like a ransom note or something. He wants boring, I want handmade. I would just do what I want, but I need help with Photoshop.

    300 is a lot – wow!

  15. i enjoy these, too, and somehow christmas e-mail just doesn’t light up my day like the real mail in the mailbox does.