The Gleeful Card CrackheadYou absolutely live for sending and receiving mail. The Christmas season puts you over the edge of happiness and you quite literally soar to the mailbox each day. The cards you receive are hung delicately in a primary location in your home and then once Christmas is over, you press each card lovingly into a scrapbook. You mail approximately 150-300 handcrafted cards each holiday season to share the joy.
The Update ManiacYou view Christmastime as a chance to catch up, share the year's events with friends and family, and proudly display the growth of your kids/pets/acreage. Your cards are typically full of beautiful, flowing text, factoids about your job, and recent vacation pictures. Any cards you receive are quickly scanned for updates, then filed away in a pastel-colored accordion folder in your new home office.
The Standard SantaYou like Christmas. You order cards during online sales and pick a design that allows between 2-4 pictures of your family, preferably with everyone in sweaters. You try to get your cards mailed in time to not be rude. The cards you receive are placed on the counter with every intention of getting taped to the fridge, but 99% of the time end up in the recycling bin sometime around January 19th.
The Vintage PostmanYou don't fall for the online gimmicks and marketing techniques of these new-fangled online "photo" card stores. You prefer to head to your local mom-and-pop shop, carefully select a set of pretty, unique Christmas cards, and hand-write a Christmas message to each of your card recipients. You are intentional with your stamp selection. You appreciate receiving cards but sometimes wish the cards were a little more personal and detailed.
The ScroogeYou can't stand Christmas cards. You think they are a complete waste of money and resources and you wish people would stop sending them. Any cards you receive are displayed for an obligatory amount of time and then disposed of, preferably in the recycling so yet another landfill doesn't become filled with our irresponsible holiday behavior.
Now for the most part, those categories are satire. They are not intended to cause guilt or pigeonhole anyone, although I'm sure some of us can relate and match specific faces to each personality. I actually know a Scrooge, and she is a fantastic person who just really doesn't like Christmas cards. All in good fun.
I am a Standard Santa. Christmas cards are more of an obligation than a true joy to me. I do not pen nice notes to my friends and family. I forget about cards until the last minute and, because I also forget to budget for them, end up getting whatever is on sale with whatever pictures I can take myself. I sit back and pray the pictures do the talking...."Look! My kids are alive, look at them being alive and smiling!"
I wish I were more like the gleeful card crackhead. I have visions...beautiful, gorgeous visions of handmade cards, created from scraps and repurposed garbage, created by my own two hands and lovingly delivered in-person to all of my loved ones.
I also really, really want a rainbow unicorn to pull me around in a sled made entirely of caramel butter pecan toffee.
Handmade cards won't happen. I can pretend they will. I can even say they will. But I know me. And they won't.
So that leaves me wondering, as Christmas draws near, why do we send Christmas cards? Do we do it out of obligation? Do we do it because it's the polite thing to do? Is it truly another wasteful tradition stemming from Shutterfly-manufactured demand? Or do we love it? What is the point of mailing a Christmas card?
To answer my question, I first turned to history. I'd read a kids book about a chick named Sarah over the weekend - she apparently saved Thanksgiving. I thought if I dug into the history of Christmas cards, maybe I'd find another cool story about determination and love and the meaning behind Christmas cards.
Instead, I found out the very first American Christmas cards showed up in the late 1840's and were actually too expensive for most people to buy. It wasn't until some dude named Louis Prang came over and started mass-producing cards in 1875 that most Americans were able to buy cards. He was eventually run outta business...although the same cannot be said of John Hall and his two brothers. They started Hallmark cards in 1915 and well, we all know where that went.
So history isn't lending much help in the way of supporting the feel-good tradition of sending Christmas cards. If anything, history speaks to Christmas card commerce....the very thing I don't want to fall victim to. Money is the opposite of Christmas joy, to me.
Well how about an informative infographic? Infographics always help, right?
Hmm. Seven years ago the average American family spent about $32 on Christmas cards. I can tell you that is not my life....I paid $35 for the cards and at $0.49 a pop, my postage will cost an additional $25. So for me, sending my measly 50 cards will cost $60 this year. Just for Christmas cards. Purchased half off. Without the gold foil trim. Or printed return address.
But wait! What's that blurp about donations to charity? Oh. That's the UK. Dang. Good, but still dang. Also apparently only women really buy Christmas cards. My inner feminist is screaming.
So no help from history, no help from infographics...what's a blogger to do?
That's where you come in, dear readers. Tell me, oh tell me, what are your thoughts on Christmas cards? Are they another ploy designed to suck the money from our pockets, or do they add real value to our lives each year?
I think if I were really honest with myself, I would acknowledge that most communication, updating, photo sharing, and happy greetings can be delivered via text, Facebook, or *gasp* in person these days. The lost art of letter writing makes my soul cry but yet I do nothing to bring my pen to the page, to reach out via snail mail to family living far, far away. Instead I do what I can to mitigate the guilt from not spending as much time communicating with family and friends as I should and I buy a photo card and send it in the mail once a year. I should probably stop spending unnecessary money on cards and instead work to send personalized letters or greetings to those I love when I think of them, year-round, instead of just at Christmas. Whew. Good thing I'm not being honest with myself.
So let's hear it, lovelies. Can you relate to any of the personalities I described above? Where do you see yourself? And what is your honest take on Christmas cards...are they wonderful or wasteful? I'd love to hear about it in the comments down below and as always, thank you so, so much for reading!