1) Christmas cards or Holiday cards? Does it matter? For a long time, I insisted that my cards express Merry Christmas, because that’s what I was celebrating. As I got older and realized it wasn’t all about me, I started to embrace more all-inclusive cards and went with the “Happy Holidays” theme. But I live in the south and the Christmas dis was mentioned a few times, so I went back Merry Christmas. Then my world got bigger and I started receiving holiday cards from my Jewish friends, not Hanukah cards. So why was I sending them Christmas cards? I’m not certain if I ever offended anyone, but now I order two kinds of cards. A set of Christmas cards and a set of holiday cards. Overkill?
Our 2001 Card, with a picture inserted.
Christmas 2003, rough year, no picture!
2) Traditional greeting cards or photo cards? I was a firm believer in the traditional, folded greeting card with a nice message. I would exam tons of cards until I found one that expressed what I felt – and of course it had to be pretty. I loved getting photo cards in the mail, but felt a bit narcissistic about sending a photo of little ole single me. Once married with children, I still fought the urge for the full-on photo card, but added pictures to my traditional boxed cards. I started to waiver when I would get all the pretty photo cards from family and friends. God bless Shutterfly! Now my biggest problem is limiting the number of pictures I include on the card.
3) Funny cards? Themed cards? Religious cards? Merry & Bright? Staid and classic? Retro? Avant Garde? I debate my theme every year and have spent hours perusing card options on Shutterfly. They have hundreds to choose from and their prices are very fair – with deep discounts for consumers who buy in bulk, like me.
Christmas 2005, pictures were inserted into the front of the card, I hadn’t discovered Shutterfly yet. Inside was a simple, “Happy Holidays”
An examples of a Smith Family photo fail.
4) Posed photo or candid? I would be envious when I opened a card with a beautiful, professional family photo. Are you kidding me? I tried for years, years, to get the elusive family shot. I am not kidding when I say we pissed off more than one photographer. Getting all the kids to smile at the same time? Forget about it. Getting Rich to smile, while all this was going on – no flippin way. Often I’d enlist friends and family to try and take our picture, with very limited success. Hundreds of picture later – still nothing to show for it. Then two year ago, a photo miracle occurred at Target. Angles wept. I was so excited. Then I received some funny family pictures in the mail, and I felt like mine looked too staged. Why is the grass always greener? A friend took our picture last year and I really liked it, but I chose the wrong card and lightening didn’t strike twice.
Christmas 2007 & 2009 – still no family photo!
5) Family photo or just the kids? I do the whole family, because the card is from all of us. Some of the people I send the card to have never even met my kids! I can’t tell you how many times Rich has examined a card and commented, “Who the hell do these kids belong to?” In all fairness, 90% of our card list comes from me. Kids grow up and change fast. If their parents aren’t in the picture, sometimes even I’m confused. Still, at least half my cards feature the children alone. I’m just curious as to why.
Finally, a family photo, one of my favorites. The card above says “Marry Christmas” on the inside. The holiday card counterpart is below (with family photo on the back).
6) Do you display your cards or stack in them in a pile? If you display them, in what manner? I used to tape mine to the wall of our stairway – until Rich overruled it as tacky. Perhaps, but I loved looking at them.
7) Christmas letter? I know, I know…the proverbial Christmas letter gets a bad rap. I’m a fan though – I love getting updates, especially from people I rarely see. I have a friend who once boasted that she never read the holiday letters she received, just tossed them. Then she remembered I was a letter sender and quickly added, “But I always read yours.” Of course. When I was a kid, we got only one letter every year, from my cousin Wendy (who was my mom’s age, give or take a few years). I’d never met her or her family, but I loved reading about them – they were also a photo card family, way before it was in vogue. It was then that I committed myself to writing the annual Christmas letter, because people, enquiring minds want to know! Or at least I do. I actually started writing my letter the year I lived in Puerto Rico. I had a lot to tell, and this was pre cell phones and long distance was expensive. My card list was short back then, so each letter was personalized (the first and last paragraphs were usually handwritten). I’d only send the letters to people who I wasn’t in regular contact with. When family members complained that they didn’t get “the letter” (because they’d heard about it from a distant cousin or family friend), I started to make it all inclusive. Since my list has grown into the hundreds, it’s now one-size-fits-all. Still, every year I wonder if I should keep it up. I often hear “it’s too long” or “I can’t believe you wrote about that.” But if I don’t write it, I suspect there’ll be grumblings. Last year some cards went out without a letter (the kids helped me assemble), and I did hear about it. If you don’t get a letter from me, it was either an honest oversight, or I wrote about you and don’t want you to know. Ha!
8) Do you send cards to everyone, or a select few? I go a little overboard. I give a card to everyone I know, including the mailman and my UPS guys. I even include people I’ve never met, but corresponded with (fellow bloggers and writers). Yet I have friends who only buy a set amount, say thirty cards, and pick thirty people from their address book to send them to. I get that it can be expensive (believe me – it’s a line item on the Christmas budget in this house), but how do you choose? Aren’t you afraid of offending someone? I also know people who will only send a card if they receive a card. This can go down in different ways. There are people who buy the box, and only reciprocate if they receive a card. Others I know keep a log. They record the cards they send out and receive. If they don’t get one back, that person is off the list! But what if it got lost in the mail? What if they lost their job or something terrible happened that preempted the whole card process?
9) If you don’t send holiday cards – and there are many of you – why not? I’m just curious. In case you haven’t caught on, I love getting cards. Side bar – I want my cards delivered by mail. Please don’t send me a Christmas e-card. It’s not the same. Personally, I probably only get a 50% return on cards – at best. If I send you a card and I don’t get one in return, I’ll be honest, it kind of hurts my feelings. For the record, I don’t officially keep track, but I do make a mental note.
10) Do you ever cut someone from your list? And if so, under what circumstance? It takes a lot to get off my list, it really does. I’m afraid of hurting someone’s feeling (see above). So if you don’t get a card from me, one of three things many have happened. 1) Something terrible has happened to me. 2) I haven’t heard anything from you in five years or more and I’m not even certain if I have a current address or if you’re still alive. Or 3) I’m really, really mad at you. This has only happened once – maybe twice. Oh wait, there’s a 4) I could have totally messed up your address and it’s sitting back in my mailbox!
11) Christmas Card pet Peeves:
* “I don’t have time.” I don’t understand this one – I never have the time, but I do it anyway. Try again. The procrastinators have an option: New Year’s cards! I like those – they’re a pleasant surprise during the post-holiday let down.
* Recipient address labels. Return address labels, I get, but when my address is computer generated, I know I’m just a number to you.
* If you take the time to write me a note – bless you – but please get my name and/or my husband’s name right. I know someone who has been getting a card addressed to her husband and his ex-wife, for years! Messing up the kids names I can forgive, since I have a lot of them and often mix up their names, too.
* Cards that go to my old address. I know we’ve moved a lot, but I send “change of address notices” to everyone, just so I can get Christmas cards. Luckily, I know the people who bought our old house, so they call me if one slips through, but still – this is our FOURTH Christmas in this house. And I always put my address on the cards I send to youJ.
* Who a non-sender complains, “I hardly got any Christmas cards this year.” Ah, because you didn’t send any?
This topic is fresh in my mind, because I’m in the thick of it now, addressing twenty envelops a night. Don’t fear – our cards are coming. Hopefully, getting on my holiday card soapbox won’t cost me any cards on the receiving end. Just a little bit of tongue-in-cheek musing on my part. Seriously, looking forward to hearing from you! Please!