Every year, as soon as Christmas cards are out in the stores,
I buy several boxes and take them home where I stack them in plain sight and place my address book on top of them.
Every year, I intend to have those cards written in, the envelopes addressed and stamped, and in the mail by December first. And every year, I end up counting the days until Christmas Eve to make sure the cards I’m just getting around to doing in mid-December will make it just in time. I don’t even get to use holiday stamps because by then, they’re sold out.
Maybe it’s time to give this up. In this age of instant messaging and constant posting, I still send out cards at Christmas, but more and more, as seasonal greetings arrive via email and Facebook, I wonder if the sixty or seventy dollars I spend on those boxes of cards could be better spent by the animal shelter or the food bank.
To that, my friend Amanda Cashin of East Lawrencetown says, “Christmas has its challenges but one of the things I love is sending and receiving cards. I love choosing the right card for each person on my list and appreciate the opportunity to support some local artists. I love the trip to the post office, too. I will always send cards. Always.”
Amanda sends around sixty or so cards every year so she does buy some boxed cards. “I save the special local ones for people who I know will truly appreciate them,” she says. “I also buy them over the course of several visits to the market so I don’t notice the cost as much.”
Like Amanda, former Pugwash resident Laura Lee Bustin upholds the tradition of sending and receiving cards because it’s a memory from her childhood, particularly of her grandmother coming up with different ways to display them. Now living with her husband in Rwanda as part of a ministry team, Laura Lee appreciates the letters from home and the updated family photos.
“One of my cousins does a painting every year which she then makes into her Christmas card – we are always on the lookout for that envelope!” she says.
Yet I have noticed the number of cards arriving at my house is dropping off even as I recommit every November to sending them.
In a very unscientific study, I asked the friends of my Facebook author page who still sends cards, and if they stopped, why. Although the cost of cards and stamps, and the amount of work involved concerns many of the women who responded, everyone acknowledges the special connection that is created by sending and receiving Christmas cards.
Edith O’Brien of Amherst commented, “Social media is easy but I feel good friends are worth the time of an old-fashioned, handwritten note in a card.”
Amanda points out that many cards reflect the personality of the sender, and she particularly loves to see the handwritten signatures. “I received a card from a high school friend once, after we hadn’t connected for years, and her hand-writing took me right back to Grade Nine and the notes we would pass back and forth in class.”
That personal touch is hard to beat. When author Marjorie Simmins’ card arrives from Cape Breton (one of the 50 to 75 she sends each year), I know
it will have horses or dogs on it, and I know the
card I send Marjorie will end up on one of her
strings of cards around a doorway or across her fireplace mantel.
We add the expectations and activities of Christmas on top of our already busy lives but somehow, I think of all the traditions we try to uphold every year, sending cards is worth the effort.