Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hoping For Christmas Letters

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 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.

Merry Christmas.


Heather said...

We send out Christmas cards each year. Yes it is expensive, but I know they enjoy getting them. We don't do a letter just a photo card. We don't get nearly as many back as we send out, but that is okay. Merry Christmas and I hope your doorways are full of cards.

Jennifer said...

Loved your Christmas card and photo this year!!! You should be getting ours today!!! My mom still does a Christmas letter each year, and this year I finally jumped on the bandwagon with a small letter I crammed on the back of our card.
This year I started a tradition of putting up a garland of our own cards from years' passed. Very fun to look back and see our journey of holiday celebrations!

James & Kristin said...

That's exactly why we sent out letters this year, because I LOVE getting them! Every time I return from the mailbox empty handed, I curse the mailman because he must be stealing all the Christmas letters! My parents always sent letters and I hated it when they would force us to come up with artwork to adorn the borders of the letter, but I loved seeing my art in print. This year I almost just sent out pictures, but I enjoy letters so much that I figured we'd better treat others as we want to be treated! :) I love your thoughts on Christmas letters! Maybe next year I'll get out an old typewriter and do it that way. What great memories! Hope our letter goes on your doorway! Your picture is taped up with the others on our mirror, but it's going in a frame after the holidays. (that's how special you guys are :) And that's how much I love that family photo of you! Hope the mailbox is overflowing for you today!!

Anonymous said...

Love this article. Loved, Loved it. You put into words all my feelings on why I still do letters and love getting them. I love getting the photo cards people do too. I'm getting more cards, letters, and pics this year. And they are taking more room on the boarder above the kitchen cupboards. Someone gasped when I told them how many I send out, but it's worth it. I love getting them back. Some people it's the only time each year we connect and I love staying connected. There is something nicer about it than facebook. Old traditions are great. Off to make Christmas cookies, another old tradition. By the way for some reason I'm enjoying this Christmas season more than other years. Not sure why but I'll enjoy it while it lasts and look forward to next year.

Jen Rouse said...

I have never done Christmas letters, but reading those from friends this year I'm considering doing one, in addition to our photo cards. I love getting them--I should assume other people would like one from us if I did one, right? (You got our card, right? I gave it to you at MOPS?)

Rebekah said...

Glad we all feel the same. It is totally worth the time and cost to send ours out. I like letters or photo cards, either one makes me smile. However, the extra note does make it even more special. I just got one that had a short list of yearly happenings attached to the back of the photo.

Rebekah said...

Yes, always assume people like reading a bit about you. I even think a nice handwritten Merry Christmas and name is nice. Handwriting is strangely intimate and in this age of texting and FB, seeing a live bit of handwriting is a nice, warm touch. My least favorite x-mas greeting is a snowy card with only the last name of the sender....not note, not picture, no letter, no nothing....those are always know the people are alive, but that's about it. So, Jen...send out a letter! :)

heather said...

I love both sending and receiving Christmas cards. It is such a fun way to connect with people. And since personal mail in the mailbox is such a rarity it is extra special to get all those cards in the mail in December!