After 20 years, the tradition died. All of a sudden. No planning. It just did.
I am one of those people who spent Thanksgiving Day writing out Holiday cards to people I saw last week or a decade ago, picking out the best card in my stash to use for this particular person, and then giving an update about all that’s been going on since the last time we spoke. I send them out Black Friday (probably the only time I leave the house if there are tons to send) and then they go off .
I’ve sent them out to old professors, old teachers I liked, family over many states, old friends I had in high school…oodles of people. I used to joke that anybody in my address book would get a Christmas card from me every year from now on.
Well, not this freaking year.
Some reasons are more nit-picking than others, but these are the reasons why I didn’t bother to send this year:
1. I’m not particularly close to a lot of people, and the ones I actually speak to don’t require a Christmas Card because we already talk.
This is the clincher. I got tired of sending cards to family members I hadn’t spoken to in an eternity. Some family members don’t get along and are spread across several states, at least a thousand miles from me. Some are family I don’t particularly get along with anyway because they’re the “con-artists” and the last thing I need is to get involved in something shady or get more broke because of their stupid get-rich-quick scheming.
I’ve heard every family has one. Why did these two have to marry each other? Guess that was the attraction–ugh.
Also, I got annoyed because the more I did the card thing, the more I realized it was more of a “Hi, Family, I’m not dead yet. Well…til next year!” type of announcement.
Unless there’s an actual death in the family, nobody bothers reaching out to the more extended branches to let them know what’s going on. If you care, don’t wait til somebody reminds you of your own damned mortality all of a sudden!
It felt more like a chore instead of an excited get-in-touch moment, then over the years when nothing changed I had less and less to say. I can’t stand calling or talking when there’s nothing to ask or add.
I don’t call somebody just to check in, so why send cards that amount to the same thing?
That’s a big reason why I didn’t bother going to look for the card stash.
2. The holiday cards that I love to use the most just haven’t been available the past few years. Takes the fun out of it when you can’t send what you want to.
Yes, I said “Holiday” cards, in the sense that I’m big on picking out cards that have “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” the most, but I’ll take “Merry Christmas,” too (as long as it’s fun and not preachy).
I LOVE the holiday Shoebox cards from Hallmark. Every year I’d be looking for them (the one thing I’d go early for come Christmas shopping season), because they were so funny. The drawings or the photos always made somebody laugh, and I’m always going to look for the laughable items. The season can be a complete drag sometimes, but with a humor card to look at, sometimes it’s just worth the postage.
It was also a way to distinguish myself. People knew the kinds of cards I sent or handed over and when they’d see a stack they’d hang up and display, they could tell mine right off the bat (at least, it was so with the people I physically handed cards to). It made giving cards fun.
But the past few seasons, I haven’t seen boxed sets of Shoebox cards–you have to get them individually (when you find them) and it’s too damned expensive to get them all one at a time. And then I’d have to figure out who was worth the extra expense and who should get a generic card–that’s not nice and a headache to boot.
And then I went for my runners-up: Peanuts or Grinch holiday cards in boxed sets. Even THOSE seem to be dwindling. Because of the numbers of designs, I could stretch those out and give a different one every year, and I liked it because I know people love those things. Unfortunately, I just can’t find them.
I don’t like the basic Christmas cards with nativity scenes on them or big glittery Bible verses. I get it, Christmas is in the cold season in our country, but dammit, I doubt there was three feet of snow on the roof and surroundings of the barn Christ was born in.
My inner-Geographer wants to cringe every time I see it. It’s marketing at it’s worst.
3. Its been 3-weeks since my usual Holiday card send date. Nobody’s noticed.
There’s something about hand-writing on cards and using envelopes that I just love. I love stamping and addressing physical mail to people. I take the time and do that the most, and do my best handwriting that’s still quick so people know it’s me.
But it proves something to me now. Two weeks ago, my theoretical cards should have arrived. Maybe only one person out of the 50 or 60 I habitually send to has noticed.
I’m not looking for validation, and “oh, woe is me, people don’t like me” bullshit is not what I’m going for here. It just makes me wonder if I’m only remembered because I send cards out. It’s like a bell in the head, “oh, hey, that’s our cousin. Let’s send a card, too.”
I get tired of being the first one to reach out, and sometimes the only one. It’s like my friend/ex-boyfriend back in high school all over again. I had to ask and suggest things, and he was always distracted and uninterested. I had to make the first gestures and suggestions to hang out or talk. In two years, he called me only twice, and that was for directions to my house. Otherwise, I called every time.
Nice enough guy, but it took a while for me to get the hint that he just wasn’t as into me as I was into him, and why bother trying anymore.This feels like much of the same.
And frankly, my extended family (and old friends whose addresses I just can’t bring myself to throw away) have talked and seen each other so rarely we wouldn’t recognize each other on the street, I’m sure. So why would I care if they even see my card or get one?
Well, I was looking for ways to save money this year. I saved about $50 on cards and postage this year.
Usually I don’t mind spending it. It’s a little gesture that goes a long way.
But it gets tiring, and I’m at the point that I just don’t care if they know me or love me anymore. I’m here. I’ve been in the same place consistently for over a decade.
If they don’t know that by now, then I just can’t help them.
And maybe I no longer care to.
I suppose it would be different if we actually felt like family or friends…whatever that feeling should be.
But it’s not.
And that’s why I talk through regular channels to family and friends that want to keep in touch (Or I say hello to you, kind strangers, who are often more honest in your commentary than any family member–and thanks for that, by the way).
So, a coffee-toast because it’s too early for the good stuff:
To finding the true friends and family and meaning of the season to you. Best of luck to all of us on the downhill race into 2018…and hoping that it’s far better for us and our world.