Christmas cards obsolete? There has been chatter on the card’s decline for years with two dominate theories. The first is that there is a limit to the number of meaningful relationships that people can maintain (I.e. – the number of Christmas cards on your mantel, and not Facebook friends, is the measure of reciprocal social networks). In other words, not many cards (snail or email) = not many “true friends”. The second is that the digital age has made it easier and cheaper to share family pictures and digital cards via social media or email.
Both theories are all fine and dandy and have their merits. But, I am still sending out traditional cards this year.
While I accept that the digital age is here to stay, I will always be a private person. Therefore, I am selective about what images go up on the intertubes. For example, I do not post many, if any, pictures of my Kiddo on social media. First of all, she is not of the age to give me informed consent and, secondly, once I hit click, that image, post, whatever is out there forever. I don’t want Kiddo to one day ask, “Mom, why did you have to show the entire world THAT (or ANY) picture of me?”
This bit of back story brings me to my real point – why I still give Christmas cards. If I give you a Christmas card, we have (had) a relationship meaningful enough that you have entrusted me with your address and phone number. We have coffee. I babysit your kids. I baked you a pie when you went through that tough patch. You talked me down from anxiety, grief or vise versa. We shared our dreams. We have chatted in ways that matter. We connect(ed). But in a way that goes beyond clicking “like”.
A Christmas meme, while cute or a momentary laugh, is just that – momentary. When I give you a card, I honor our relationship. I give you a time capsule of the moment that I thought of you and your family, then took a few minutes to hand write your address and a short message and sign the card. And vise versa. When I display your card for the season, I feel you in my home. Again, that connection thing.
This year, I made my own Christmas cards. Carved the front design and hand printed. Was it a fun? Sure. Golly, wasn’t it time-consuming? Yes. Definitely. But in the vein of cooking a memorable family meal.
In this period of political and social angst, I wanted to do something more. I needed to cut through all of the vitriol and conspiracy theories that seem to clog my news feeds these days.
I wanted to express a moment of silence.
This year’s cards express my unending hope for peace and my belief that dawn is brightest against the deepest night. I fill my cards with all the memories of our relationship, because that in-person interaction is what makes me human and gives me opportunity to both experience and share empathy, something in short supply in the world. But most of all, I fill my cards with gratitude that we still have this tangible connection.