Every year, at the end of November and the first days of December, I get my address book out and start writing Christmas cards. I write the dreaded “brag letter” of what our family has done since last year, I get this year’s photos printed, and my son and I take several days to write or draw in every single card.
But why? It seems like the tradition of sending Christmas cards is something that’s phasing out with each passing generation. The reasons for not sending Christmas cards are pretty evident – they take a long time to do, you often hear nothing back from those you mail them to, postage costs, the cost of the cards themselves, etc.
For me, though, Christmas cards are about connections. I think more families should consider sending out annual cards, even if not for Christmas or New Year’s.
This summer, my family packed the car and drove out to the middle of nowhere in Saskatchewan. Our destination was the farm where my grandfather was born to commemorate his passing with my extended family. With all of us gathered together, I was able to introduce my child to my great-aunts for the first time – each of them lit up when they met him. They commented (some several times!) on how they loved receiving mail from him every year.
Most of my great-aunts (and I suspect most of your elderly relatives, too) don’t even own a computer, or if they do, they use it very infrequently. They grew up in a time when even phone calls between the provinces were costly, and reserved for news like weddings, births and funerals. My yearly letter is a connection; something that, despite our busy lives, keeps us connected. That connection is so very cherished and important.
Beyond my low-tech relations, we send holiday cards to almost everyone in our lives that we have a current address for. We don’t send everyone our yearly “brag letter,” but the opportunity to say ‘hello’ in card form is a moment of connection that I’ve come to cherish. It’s a way to show people that we’re thinking of them and wish them well, even if we often neglect to call, email, or connect in other ways.
The cards we send reinforce to my child the importance of reaching out and keeping connections with family and friends. It’s a time to practice his writing, as well as think about and remember each person and what kind of art project they might like, or what kind of information about our lives we think they’d be interested in. We have time to sit and chat about mom’s high school friend who lives in Scotland and has sheep and geese; a great-aunt who taught in a one-room schoolhouse; a cousin who plays the violin; a friend who loves cats; an uncle who overcame cancer.
When we do receive holiday cards from family and friends – even if all they include is a generic wish and their names – I feel remembered and special. If my cards can give that same feeling to those in my life, I feel like they are worth the effort. Consider making them part of your tradition this year, too!
Trista is a stay-at-home mom and loves to share her discoveries about how to make life in Calgary work for families of all kinds.
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