The Holiday Cards Dilemma


Holiday cards.

To send or not to send? That is the question. And it’s been a bothersome one I’ve grappled with every winter for the past five years.

holiday cards dilemmaWhen I think back to the holidays of my childhood, one image that is seared into my brain is that of my Mom, sitting at our dining room table many a night in early December, listening to her Andy Williams Christmas album, with cards, pens, and stamps spread out all around her. Sending out Christmas cards was simply what one did. And she and my sisters and I all loved looking at the many cards we received back, especially the photo cards that showed smiling families from near and far away.

As soon as I got married, I started the holiday card tradition as well. There was never a question back then, before social media and the posting of family photos online all throughout the year became the norm. For a couple years, I even sent the (dreaded?) typed newsletter, when we’d experienced some significant events during the year. I tried hard to keep it real, not brag about my near-perfect children, and I never rambled on for more than one double-spaced page.

As the years passed, my card recipient list grew even longer. As a military family who frequently moved for over a decade, we accumulated new friends with each assignment, and yearly cards were the only way we kept in touch with many of those families.
Finally, one year I realized my list was out of control, and the whole card process was taking up way too much of my time, not to mention the cost of buying and mailing well over 100 cards. I cut my list like a horror movie slasher, feeling a little guilty, but not looking back.

With a list that’s now been manageable for many years, my conundrum is mainly environmental. I realize sending cards is not very eco-friendly, what with the paper used and the fossil fuel needed to transport those cards all around the world. And with about 80% of my recipients on social media, a photo posted online could solve the issue quite easily.

But I think about the little jolt of joy I get every time I open my mailbox to see a holiday card inside it during December – and now January too, as more of the procrastinators send New Year’s cards. I love getting cards from friends, and I display them on my wall every year in a festive card display. I even save some of my favorites, tucking them away into a drawer which gets cleaned out every few years.

So, every year I wonder – how many people out there really care about receiving holiday cards? Is the tradition worth the time, money, and the effort? My kids are older now, and they don’t change that much from year to year. I’m thinking that it’s time to take a break from the cards, and actually stick with that decision, until we have a wedding in the family, or a Nobel Prize winner, or we sell everything and move to a tropical island.

Until then, you’ll find our family’s holiday photo on social media.

Unless I find a super cute card with a 50% off deal!


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