Just a few days ago, I received the first Christmas card of the holiday season in my mailbox. It included the faces of a family I love. Their professional photos showed off what a truly gorgeous bunch they are. Emblazoned across the top was one of the typical “Happy Holidays!” messages we’ve all come to expect on these pre-printed cards.
That was it. No personalized note or handwritten signature. Even the address on the front of the envelope was printed by the publisher the cards had come from, which is pretty normal for Christmas cards these days.
I should know, I receive a lot of them. Even though I’ve never sent a single one.
For the record, I’m about to launch into a rant. But before I do, I want to be clear about one thing: I love you. I love your photos. I love that you think of me when you want to send those cards. I love that I’m one of your people. And if sending Christmas cards makes you happy, then I’m all for it. I’ll proudly display your family’s smiles on my refrigerator until at least January.
But seriously, can we just for a moment acknowledge how silly this whole tradition has become?
(There's) this weird pressure to send out cards that make your family look like J. Crew models, without much more effort toward any actual human connection.
It used to be that Christmas cards were about updating people on your life, not just sending them a picture of your smiling face. I know this, because my grandma used to send the most epic Christmas letters ever. And sure, I used to make fun them too (mostly because she had a penchant for exaggerating the details so that everyone’s lives somehow came out sounding much better than they actually were), but at least it was an update. It was an effort she made to keep those friends and family she didn’t get to see regularly included in the lives of her family.
And you had better believe she hand-signed every single one.
Now, in the era of Christmas cards as professional photo displays (and nothing more), so much of that sentimentality seems to be lost. In its place is this weird pressure to send out cards that make your family look like J. Crew models, without much more effort toward any actual human connection.
My first Christmas as a mom, multiple people asked when they would be receiving our Christmas card in the mail. I kind of laughed. At the time, my daughter was barely 8 months old. And as a single mom, I barely had time to shower, let alone design cards with photos most of my friends had already seen on Facebook anyways. I also realized that the cards themselves would cost me around $100, including stamps, by the time everything was said and done. And I simply could not justify the cost for something that, again, seemed so impersonal and unnecessary to me.
I passed. And I realized that in doing so, I felt exactly zero guilt. Even as friends, family and acquaintances I hadn’t actually spoken to in years reached out for my address so that they could send me their cards, I had zero desire to return the favor.
For whatever it’s worth, I love cards. I have a bit of a Hallmark addiction and a card drawer with more than 50 unused cards in it that I pull from for any number of occasions. I am totally the girl who will send a card with a sweet note in it to a friend just because I know she’s having a bad week, or got a promotion, or fell in or out of love.
I send cards all the time. I just … I don’t see the point in sending these cards.
Now, one could argue that if I’ve got such an issue with the impersonal holiday cards of today, nothing is stopping me from breaking the mold and sending updates similar to those my grandma once sent. But you know what? I don’t have the time for that. I totally get why people send these photo cards they don’t even bother to sign themselves. Because … parenthood, man. It zaps you of all your extra time and energy.
I understand why no one takes the time to personalize their holiday cards anymore. I just don’t understand why they still bother sending them in the first place.
So here’s the deal: You’re never going to get a Christmas card from me. And it’s not because I don’t care about you, or I don’t want to update you on our lives. It’s not because I don’t want you to have our photos on your Christmas card stand, or because I neglected to add your name to my list.
If you want to save the money you would have spent on sending me that card and buy yourself a coffee instead, I totally get it.
It’s simply because I find the whole tradition a bit overrated. And let’s be honest, even if I tried to send those holiday cards out, I probably wouldn’t get my shit together enough to accomplish doing so any sooner than January.
But if sending those cards is something that brings you joy, I support it. I promise I’m not a Grinch who grits her teeth upon seeing your smiling faces in my mailbox. I open the card, I show it to my kid, and we put it on our fridge. There is a prominent space for you right there between her finger paintings and her preschool schedule.
All I’m saying is, if it doesn’t bring you joy, if it’s not something you find happiness in doing … don’t feel pressured to send those cards out on account of me. Because it kind of just seems like one more holiday hassle parents put on themselves that could pretty easily be cut out.
I promise, your photos will be just as appreciated showing up in my newsfeed as they will be in my mailbox. And in fact, the environment would probably thank you for avoiding that paper waste as well. So if you want to save the money you would have spent on sending me that card and buy yourself a coffee instead, I totally get it.
In fact, that’s probably what I’ll be doing with the money I didn’t spend on holiday cards, too.
Maybe I’ll see you at the coffee shop and we can update each other on our lives.