OK, True Confessions time. And this one’s going to be unpopular.
I think Christmas cards are mostly a waste of time, postage, paper, energy and space. Now before you put me in the stocks and chop off my hands, or call me a Scrooge, or remove me from your Christmas card list, hear me out.
I’ve read a dozen different takes on this issue, from “It’s a very nice gesture,” to “It’s an irresponsible waste of resources.” I’m somewhere in the middle. I like getting Christmas cards that have a personalized message that took more effort than just signing a name (Mavis is famous for the warmhearted written sentiment that hits the spot). Sometimes I receive Christmas cards with pictures in them; that’s a nice thought, too.
On the few occasions I’ve sent out cards at Christmas, each one contained some kind of personalized message, because I figured anything less amounted to just my autograph on a pretty picture — and who on earth wants that? It’s not that greeting cards have no place in my life; rather, if I’m going to send them out, they’re going to have something in them, like a gift card, money, or a well-thought-out, heartfelt personalized message. Anything else, to me, is just wasteful.
What do you do with your Christmas cards after you remove them from the fireplace mantle or door frame? Do you send them to the recycling center (which involves cost, labor and resources), put them in a box forever (???), or just throw them in the garbage, bound for the landfill?
You could reuse them by cutting out the pictures and making cool things, or fashion gift tags out of them for presents. But honestly, who has time for that? Not many people I know.
Then there’s the oft-vilified “Christmas update letter” sent out by some families, apprising everyone of what’s going on in their lives. Some think it’s tacky or pretentious. I disagree. I think it’s a great idea, especially when the recipients and senders don’t often see one another. Even if it’s a photocopied letter, it still beats opening the card and reading “The Smiths,” or “Aunt Evelyn and Uncle John.” Where’s the Christmas spirit in that? If you’re going to send me a picture of the Star of Bethlehem, an angel chorus, a Currier & Ives scene or a polar bear wearing a Santa hat, write something pithy on the back of it. Give me something to read besides your signature.
Or you could go to MoonPig.com for some personalized awesomeness. Now I could have some fun there.
Back when I had ambition and a life, I used to do a Christmas webpage for our family, dedicating a section to each member. I’d email the address to everyone on my mailing list. I got a lot of nice feedback from it, and struck up some great email conversations with people I hadn’t communicated with in a long time. But I also understand that doing a website is not everyone’s idea of reaching out during the holidays. That’s OK. My way isn’t the only way, which is why I will accept any and all Christmas cards this year with grace and humility.