Ode to Holiday Cards

Every year, by November’s end, I fancy this will be the year I rebel and won’t send holiday cards. They’re too stressful. Finding the right photo, picking out a card style, maybe writing up a short synopsis of the past year. Who has time? But who am I kidding?

My favorite season on the postal calendar has just begun.

It started shortly after Thanksgiving and runs right through Epiphany and until I get our own cards in the mail, it makes me just a wee neurotic.

I hold silent my grudge against early arrivals, the ones stamped, addressed, mailed AND delivered even before I’ve uploaded our Christmas photo (sometimes even before I’ve taken it, as is the case this year). Similarly, I hold close the late arrivals, ones that prolong this already-too-short season by another day.

They start with a trickle, just one or two by now, and then slowly, steadily, the numbers pick up. Some days, I find as many as 5 or 6 at a time. I love seeing the pictures, reading notes, noticing how each card reflects our friends’ individual styles.

Each day, as the mail truck’s stop-and-go sound nears our house, I grow giddy with anticipation, part hoping there won’t be any in the day’s delivery—confirming that I’m not so behind afterall—part wondering who’s actually organized enough to have their cards mailed by now.

As each one arrives, I tape it up at the entry of our kitchen. Those with our childrens’ friends pictured on them go at child-eye-level. The rest vie for space until the wall is full. Though I appreciate every card we get, no matter what its image, style or picture, I have always loved most the ones that also include a picture of our friends, the card progenitors.

Sure, I enjoy seeing everyone’s offspring and marvel at how quickly they change and grow but let’s be honest, I’m interested in seeing the same thing about their parents too.

We live in New England and something about that generates an odd reaction in people. Every year, we receive a handful of cards with a family photograph (or of just their kids) dressed either in khakis and white tops or Lilly Pulitzer-y outfits, adorned by sand and dune grass…something about them always makes me chuckle. Is it the quintessential New England preppiness of it all? or perhaps just because we are a mixed-race family and the idea of taking such a preppy Christmas photo ourselves seems off?

Last year we received a few cards composed of photo montages. I really loved looking at them, the way they gave us a glimpse into the past year of our friends’ lives. Though we live in a well-connected world of smart phones and social media, of Skyping and blogs, there is something particularly sacred about the still-frame of a photograph.

On DH and my list are friends that we haven’t seen in years, even a few that precede our relationship as a couple but they’re people I never want to forget, and I silently pray they won’t forget me either.

Holiday cards are proof that we still matter enough to someone to make it onto her Holiday card list.

Come February, I am loath to take down the photo wall but by Valentine’s Day, Christmas images and messages feel out-of-place. Some cards I take down reluctantly, worried that they may be the last image I have of a fading friendship. Others I remove assuredly, knowing we’ll receive another come Christmas.

So here we are, it’s the first full week of December, we’ve decked our halls, put up our tree and hung our Christmas lights but aside from worrying about them, we’ve yet to do anything about our holiday cards. Just maybe, this year, I won’t send holiday cards afterall…

Where do you stand on the holiday-readiness-meter?  Signed, sealed delivered or still recovering from Thanksgiving?


10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Heather Kelly
    Dec 05, 2011 @ 09:34:02

    Oh, dear. I’m pretty sure that I will run across our box of un-sent Christmas Cards from last year. Maybe I’ll send out two this year.

    Some years, our cards are New Years cards!

    I feel exactly the same about this as you do. Although I love the process of trying to get three kids to stay in the photo lens target long enough to get a shot!

    Traditionally we take a snow picture for our cards. Which means some years, we wait, and wait…

    If only I had snapped a picture at Halloween, of the kids dressed in red and green in our Thunder Snow!

    Hoping you’ll get a Christmas card from us this year!


  2. growingmuses
    Dec 05, 2011 @ 14:41:43

    hoping maybe we’ll even get two ;o) That’s pretty daring of you to try to take christmas photo in the snow, sometimes we don’t get any until nearly the end of Dec…It’s good to know that at least I’m in good standing with holiday preparedness in your eyes.


  3. Susan
    Dec 05, 2011 @ 17:32:21

    Still in Thanksgiving mood. I actually have the cards, but with it’s being 60 outside, I’m not yet in the spirit.


  4. Sarah B
    Dec 05, 2011 @ 21:46:42

    I must confess that I love getting cards, but not sending them. It is, oddly, very similar to having a blog for me. I love reading other people’s news, connecting with their families, but I feel a little self conscious and/or arrogant (maybe that’s not quite the right word) sending a picture of us and how we are doing.
    It is fun to read the words from the “other side”…the sender side! Just maybe it will translate into a trip to the post office this year!


    • growingmuses
      Jan 24, 2012 @ 15:57:26

      We’re still waiting for your holiday card :o( but don’t worry, you’re not alone, we only get back about half as many as we send…I hope it’s not because people don’t like us ;o)


  5. cecile
    Dec 09, 2011 @ 14:10:51

    Oh, I’m probably always one of the latest people receive ! I still did not take the picture, and I’m just starting to think about it now. This week-end, maybe ?


  6. EG
    Dec 19, 2011 @ 12:09:18

    I adore holiday cards, too! They’re taped up in our entry way, much to my poor mother’s dismay (“Scotch tape? On the WALL?!”) As my kids are 4 and 2, the idea of taking a suitable picture fills me with dread, though. We didn’t have a single one of all of us looking at the camera and I looked through pics from the entire year. And, what IS up w/ the beach picture? I love them all, though–especially w/ form letters.


    • growingmuses
      Dec 20, 2011 @ 06:26:01

      Well, does she have a better solution than Scotch tape? and if so, would she mind sharing because I leave a roll right next to our wall-of-hommage all December long. Fear not, it’s always the unsuitable pictures, the ones where someone’s pulling someone’s tail or sticking a candy cane up her nose or whose perfect Christmas outfit is all disheveled that I love the most. Don’t those speak miles more than the khaki-and-white photos? On that note, I love your card. Make sure you save one for yourself.


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