Since 2002 or so, I’ve been making my own holiday cards. The extra effort and attention pays off in a lower-cost result, as well as a message that’s truly from me.
This year’s cards are mostly in the mail, except for a handful that will make it out into the world late. These are collages, recycled snippets of previous years’ messages from friends and family. Glossy wreaths and trees, bright ornaments and old-fashioned village scenes were cut apart and then glued together into new scenes. A cat, once peering into a snowglobe at a festive fish, now stares wistfully at a cup of coffee. A lovely black-and-white forest scene has two tiny birds flitting through, adding dashes of color.
What’s different this 2010 red and green season, due to a scheduling crunch, is what’s inside those one-of-a-kind cards. The words I wrote barely count as messages. They’re more like signatures. In fact, mostly I skipped “Dear so-and-so” and signed with our initials. So if you know me, and you get a card with a scramble of letters inside, look at the return address if you’re confused.
Fewer people seem to be sending out greeting cards due to ongoing postage hikes and the ease of the internet. If I had opted for e-mailing my Christmas wishes, I would have included stories about the year’s highlights and thoughtful comments addressed to the recipient. The actual message would have been full and rich and personal.
But I’m a sucker for the old-fashioned romance of mail. There’s something about an envelope with a stamp on it, arriving from far away. I love sending bits of cheer to those I don’t see very often. So I’ll save the long-winded notes, the actual writing, for e-mails, and in 2011 I’ll try to get more real mail to the people I miss, even if it’s just a silly little postcard wish-you-were-here. An unexpected dose of cheer is important any time of year.