The Evolution of Our Holiday Cards
Our 2007 Holiday Card
Before photo cards were a thing, I made fingerprint reindeer with google eyes and pom-pom noses. The envelopes had stamps of all Santa's reindeer and the postage stamps were even reindeer themed. Maybe (just maybe) I went a little overboard.
If you love sending holiday cards, more power to you. If it brings you joy, keep on at it. I am not writing this to try to say you shouldn't be sending cards. I'm merely sharing my own experience on the subject. Not sending cards is a personal choice I made a few years ago and it's been the right one for our family AND I don't mean to say it's right for everyone. Read on if you want.
A few years ago I felt overwhelmed with December, and pretty much with life in general. In non-2020-weird-what-the-hell-is-going-on-years, there are usually so many things out of my control on our December calendar...parties at school, holiday concerts to attend for my children, extra activities that are all so fun but also take me away from my home, the last minute gift someone needs for something they forgot to tell me about...you get the picture. As someone who used to hand make holiday cards using thumbprints and pom-poms and then progressed to designing our own holiday cards using Photoshop, I have always loved the creative process behind sending holiday cards. I looked forward to it every year. I love writing little notes to people, expressing how much I care for them. I love seeing our year wrapped up neatly on a 5x7 piece of paper. I love sending a piece of us out into the world. I love looking back over the years and seeing these little time capsules of our family. And then suddenly in 2018, I didn't love it anymore. I actually started to feel the opposite of love for it. And you know what that's called? Evolution. And it's all ok. I started looking for anything and everything I could choose to remove from our schedule to make December (and our lives) feel less hectic. I knew I couldn't cut out certain things (holiday band concerts will always go on), but I could choose to control other aspects. I wanted to spend my free time working on other things instead of designing/addressing/mailing cards that get thrown out on December 26th. I know, Bah humbug. All of a sudden, sending holiday cards just wasn't aligning with the things I wanted for our December. It just wasn't serving our family anymore.
I know. It was shocking to me, too. Anyone who knew me then was really confused about my decision. When I first thought about not sending cards, I was worried I would have major FOMO. Clearly, I love photos. I love physical cards. I love crafting. I love pom-poms. I love a lot about the idea of holiday cards and I certainly LOVE getting them. It was one year. I was just going to take one year off. That's what I told myself. To make sure I wouldn't go back on my idea that year, I decided to donate the money to EmpowerHer, an organization founded by my friend, Cara. And I told her I was going to do it so I actually had to stick to it. I was nervous I would be upset about not sending cards AND INSTEAD IT FELT SOOOOOOO GOOD! Last year, I tried it out again and felt the same feeling of happiness. Hmm...was I on to something? And now, here we are in 2020 and I cannot even imagine doing holiday cards. It didn't even cross my mind. Not one single time. We had family photos taken and everything. This year, I'm donating the money to Children of Fallen Patriots, an organization founded by a local family to help children who have lost a parent in service to our country. I don't have the stress of making the card. I don't have to stress of ordering in time. I don't have to worry I spelled everything right. I don't need to worry about addressing the envelopes or inputting all the addresses in the computer. And I don't have a box of cards staring at me on my desk that need to get mailed. I don't have the stress of accidentally not sending one to someone I care about. I don't have the stress of the 3 that always get sent back with wrong addresses. I don't have to hunt people's addresses down if I know they have moved. I just took something off of my to-do list and it's really been fantastic.
Things I love about NOT sending holiday cards:
More time for other things in my free time (like working on our family yearbook!)
Less stress about making the "perfect" typo-free card to capture our year
More time to call people I haven't talked to in a while
Less physical waste by not putting cards into the world
Less physical clutter by not having my cards all over my desk
More money to donate to a good cause and feeling darn good about it
If you are feeling like you don't have the desire to keep sending holiday cards this year, I 100% give you permission to take a break. It is 2020, after all. It doesn't have to be a forever decision, just stick your pinkie toe in the water and see how it feels for one year. You can always send them again next year if you really missed it. I'm also not telling you that you have to donate the money, but if the money was already earmarked in your budget to be spent, I promise you won't miss it. If you are worried you will miss that holiday connection, pick up the phone and call some of the people you would have sent a card. If you made one 10-minute phone call a day all month you could have meaningful connection with lots of people. You can still share your holiday wishes on social media or in an email. You can still share a photo of your family from the year. You can still connect in a meaningful way with the people who matter most. And that's what the holidays are really all about. It's not about the fancy gifts. It's not about the perfect holiday card. You get to choose how to make the holiday season special for you, with or without a card to send out into the world. And if you choose to send out a holiday card, I will be happy for you and happy to receive it, if you send a copy our way. As long as you do it because you want to, then I think it's a worthwhile effort!