People that have known me for years and years know that I have had a somewhat crazed obsession with Christmas cards. I can remember the first ones I sent out in probably Christmas 2001. This was life pre-Facebook of course, so getting a card with a quick update in the mail from me was probably something unexpected. I didn’t go on and on or anything- I probably just signed my name and mailed it off. But that started a tradition that I’ve been doing ever since.
The first years…
My cards got a little more elaborate over the years- and I jumped on the photo card bandwagon right from the start. My first photo card was in 2005 which held the engagement photo of my husband and I and was a sort of save the date for our wedding the following July. They were cheap cards I bought at Target and put the wallet size photo in the window.
From there I graduated to the full-blown cards featuring our new puppy, and then the following year BOTH dogs and a baby on board. I reached a frenzied pitch the first Christmas of my son and had him dressed in a cute Santa suit holding the ‘reins’ of both dogs like they were his reindeer. Oh that one I’ll never forget because it was SO CUTE.
(I’m so over the top- one year I found OUTFITS for the boys that matched the plaid of the card. Seriously- I told you that I had a mild obsession.)
The following year we had the two new additions- and considering I was a bit overcome with diapers and bottles in October, the best I could manage was a photo card for New Year’s. I sent out two versions- one was with the three boys on the couch sleeping and smiling, and the other was sent to friends since it was more tongue in cheek. It had all three boys on the couch writhing/screaming/struggling as I tried to take the picture. It’s so funny now I wish I had just sent that one out to everyone.
Our first year here I of course couldn’t resist the temptation to send one of those photo cards filled with the backdrops of famous cities we had visited, sort of like a compiled Facebook post…. and then I realized- what was the point of me doing that when pretty much everyone I was sending a card to was on Facebook anyhow?
Last year I searched high and low for special ‘Dutch’ cards, and unhappy with the online selection I settled on an old-timey picture of (what appears to be) Dutch kids pulling a tree or on a sled. It was cute, but nothing special. I think I signed the cards as usual and maybe put a note. Yet another year when I looked at sending the cards as more of a task since it is such a production on this end to get them done in the first place. It shouldn’t be a task.
I have to order them (last year here, years past in the US) have a relative mail them to me or bring them with them when they visit, order the stamps to be sent to the US and then shipped back to me, do them here- then send them back. The whole thing was a bit much and I don’t even know why I did it. After all, I was easily spending over $100 when all was said and done. Probably more like $200 not to mention badgering my mom and mother in law into helping with the addressing/running to the post office, etc. It, and I, were pains in the behind of everyone involved.
This year- I decided after looking at my dwindling card list that I still have the desire to go back to the intention of Christmas cards of yore. Send a thoughtful greeting to people that we care about- say hi, note something of their family- which in turn would give me a moment to reflect upon them and their purpose in our lives. Isn’t that what it’s supposed to be all about anyhow?
I ended up finding some really cute hand drawn Dutch cards on Etsy this year. They were made by a woman in Ireland- so shipping to me was a non issue. She only had a few dozen, so I bought out her stock and found some rather nice Dutch picturesque cards at our local shop to compensate. I’ve had them all sitting around for a couple of weeks now and have been itching to get started. For some, I only have a simple postcard to write on- not much space. Last night I started the process by cranking open the master Christmas card excel list and divided each card and addressed it. Now what lies before me is the part where I can devote thought and energy into writing out a personal message on each one.
So maybe my suggestion this year for those of us equally as obsessed with Christmas cards is to bring back the art of the meaningful Christmas message. Don’t stress yourself out over getting the ‘perfect’ picture. Don’t think of doing them as a chore. I love seeing your photo cards, but my heart is not into putting them together anymore for us to send out. I think a hand addressed message is quite nice and I hope that people understand that while I wrote out each card you and your family flashed before my eyes and I thought of nothing but you and how you have impacted our lives. I enjoy doing this- just as I hope you enjoy receiving it. Anyhow. That’s just my two cents. Just whatever you do- don’t forget to send me one!