I enjoy a holiday celebration. I look forward to New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, Canada Day, Thanksgiving, Hallowe’en, Christmas, and all the holidays in between. If it’s an opportunity to cook a special meal, bake some treats, or make a greeting card, I’m on it. That being the case, and me being an arts and crafts, DIY kind of woman, I’m sure it surprises no one that I’ve been thinking about Christmas cards today.
The good folks at the post office tell us that the habit of sending Christmas cards is dying out. Each year, fewer and fewer of these greetings travel through the mail and that makes me sad. I really, truly love the process of making and sending Christmas cards, and the delight found in receiving them in my mailbox. What a lovely thing it is to look forward to the mail with anticipation instead of dreading its usual freight of pizza flyers and bills!
Not that I’m criticizing or complaining. I get it. We’re all crazy busy, with ever-increasing demands upon our time, so most of us have switched to the more immediate (and often less expensive) options offered by email and social networking. Goodness knows I spend enough time on Facebook for several people! And I love e-cards, especially when they have cool flash animation. I understand that because we have the option of pressing the “send” button and knowing that our message will be received almost immediately, the process of buying and addressing cards, purchasing postage, and getting to the post office to mail them can seem like a huge commitment of time and effort.
Until pretty recently, I drove myself crazy every Christmas season. It was a matter of honour to make my gifts, to decorate every inch of my house both inside and out, to make my cards, to write newsy, individual letters to family and close friends, to do Christmas baking, attend Christmas concerts, and to do some sort of volunteering. I would start my Christmas planning in January and still there would be an inevitable meltdown sometime in December, together with at least a couple of all-nighters where I pushed myself to near-exhaustion in order to get my presents done on time. I felt a tremenduous obligation to meet some illusive, unattainable Christmas-making standard, and it took me a long, long time to realize that no one had set that standard (or had any expectation that I’d meet it) other than me.
Our move from big house to much smaller apartment was a turning point for me. I couldn’t carry all that Christmas stuff with me even if I wanted to. Gone are the Christmas dishes, a good three-quarters of my seasonal decorations, and my impossible Christmas-making standards. Last year found us with only a wreath on our door and a tree in the living room. No decorations spread throughout the house and there was very little baking in my cupboards. Christmas dinner was a roast chicken shared by just the two of us. It was lovely.
Why then, even after the great simplification, do I continue to make and send Christmas cards? Because it gives me pleasure to do so. I relish the process of choosing paper, planning the design, setting up an assembly line of sorts, and then completing my cards. If they turn out as I’d planned them, so much the better. I like to see the stacks of addressed envelopes sitting on my desk. I enjoy making the trip to the post office and checking out the Christmas decorations and storefronts along the way.
Do I expect people to send me cards in return? No. It’s a delight when they do but I know that they’re busy. I’m just grateful to continue this one part of making Christmas that brings me so much joy.
Red card designed by Sharon Annis, using papers, stamps and materials from Stampin’ Up
Blue and white Christmas tree card designed by me, using paper from WalMart, a stamp from Stampin’ Up and glitter glue from the dollar store.
“Hello Dear” card designed by me, using paper from My Mind’s Eye (www.mymindseye.com)