Real. Something you can touch. Hold. I’ve been cheap these last two years, sending out e-mail Christmas letters and photo attachments, but this year I’m returning my old-postal-service-ways and spending way too much on a stamps.
My frugal tendencies may now be giving me what I deserve...not a lot of snail mail Christmas cards have come my way. My parents and I share a mailbox; I look with envy as each day they average three to five Christmas greetings. I am jealous of the older generation who has not completely given up on traditions in favor of Facebook efficiency.
My mother-in-law decorates the door frames of her house with their Christmas cards: glittery snow scenes, angel choirs, sleighs, and the babe in a manger. I have a mere three to tape around my door. I kept waiting for more to arrive, but finally decided to go ahead and put my meager assortment on display. Perhaps I should tape up some from the last couple of years, no one would ever know...
Christmas cards and Christmas letters, are they a thing of the past? Please say no. I find myself nostalgic for these items that took some time and effort on the part of the sender. I enjoy the letters just as much. Some people have strong aversions to long, Christmas letters, complaining that writer’s are bragging about their wonderful years. I’m sure others think there is no need: we read their status update daily, sometimes multiple times a day.
But my family is pretty big into Christmas letters. My mother faithfully typed them up. I can still see her pull down our heavy typewriter and painstakingly plunk out the yearly story. I remember how the keys would get stuck, several of those long arms containing the ink stained letters would bunch up near the white typing paper. My mother used whiteout when a mistake was made, or even just cross it out and kept going. (I wonder if my sons will ever purchase white out. Do they even sell it anymore?) Then my mother would run to town to make her photo copies. As a child I always liked hearing the paragraph devoted to me and my happenings. My sister would sit around her as she read us the finished product.
My grandparents stayed with us each Christmas, and one of my grandma’s pastimes when she visited was to sit in my mom’s green rocker and go read through each card and letter that filled a festive basket.
Letters, to us, are a time to reflect and be thankful. To realize how many blessings we have, and I find it personally therapeutic, so even though the price of stamps and printing has gone up, I march on with the dying tradition that continues to feed my soul.
I looked over at my husband the other night still trying to find ways to save, “Should we really keep sending out pictures and cards to some of the people on our list...like some of your friends who we never see or hear from anymore?”
He thought yes. They probably appreciate it, are glad to know.
I know I am. I know I am glad for the hello, the synopsis, the connection with something tangible and real. Something concrete to hang on my bulletin board.
I’m pleased when people come to my house and stop and look at the smiling faces on my wall. I’m proud to share my friends and relations with others.
So, what do I want for Christmas this year? A complete boarder of Christmas greetings around the door of my kitchen, I’m trying to be good. I’ve made my list and checked it twice. I’m bracing myself for the grand total at the postal counter. I’m forgoing the cheap, efficient electronic route. I hope it pays off.