As a kid, mom and dad would spend a December Saturday with a box or two of store-bought Christmas cards at the kitchen table with the address book. Each card got a new year’s greeting and a signature, sealed inside an envelope, addressed, and stamped. Simple.
Fast forward a few years. Christmas cards started to include long, typed mass produced letters with a synopsis of the last year – who was playing what sport or had broken that bone or got accepted to this college – along with a few photos from summer vacation added digitally through this newfangled thing called a scanner.
Last year, the Christmas cards that arrived in my mailbox began to cross a threshold; the digital photo postcards created by online companies like Snapfish and the like with engagement and wedding and birth and family photos outnumbered those old-fashioned store-bought boxed cards with a handwritten note.
I still buy the store-bought boxed cards. I don’t have an engagement or a wedding or children to put on display on the front of my cards – unless of course I used a photo of myself, in which case my friends would probably submit me to some “Awkward Family Photos” website for singles. I also still write a customized handwritten note for each recipient, longer than the generic two-sentence holiday greeting. It’s one holiday tradition that I think is important to preserve and your one chance before the end of the year to make that personal connection with a friend you haven’t kept in touch with or make a wrong a right.
It took me writing several cards per night for two weeks straight to check off every person on my list. Some nights exhaustion or the carpel tunnel in my hand stopped me. But many more nights I was an emotional stress ball – any watermarks are just proof of authenticity.
I saved the hardest Christmas card for last. The one I’ve agonized for days over whether to send or not. And it couldn’t just be a boxed card. I perused the greeting card aisles for half an evening and then considered stashing it away in the desk drawer with the leftover boxed ones that inevitably get passed on to someone else the following year.
And then, what do I write?
The truth won out, like it always does for me. No elusive words or pretend niceties. At least for today, I’m now out of words.