Ah, Christmas! The season when we actually look forward to mail. Well, that is until the credit card bills start pouring in. Envelopes that don’t resemble statements arrive alongside catalogs galore. Picture-perfect images of family and friends start to decorate stairwells, garlands, mirrors, and mantles throughout our homes. And the pressure is on to create the recipient list (Who sent me cards last year and who will make the cut this year?), find or design the perfect card (where did I put that Shutterfly coupon?), purchase stamps, hand address or label, and eventually mail that stack of cards.
I’m exhausted just thinking about the recipient list and the thought of hurting someone’s feelings by leaving them out.
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The Ins and Outs of Sending Christmas Cards
So I thought it would be fun to really think about this tradition and have a few laughs along the way. I laughed writing this, so I hope I’m not the only one!
In this world of social media, the need for the “A year in the life of…” letter really is unnecessary. Unless you are living under a rug, most people have been following you and all the photos and updates you have put online all year. Some would argue that Christmas cards are becoming obsolete with the ability to share your life online. But the point of a Christmas card is not to update everyone on what has been happening over the past year. It is to connect with those you love most across the miles. Or possibly, it’s just to say…
As much as it is simpler to write a form letter, skip the yearbook update. Instead, write about missing the person who is apart from you, your prayers for someone’s healing, how God has been revealed to you through them, or how you appreciate their presence in your life. You might not be able to hold the ones you love this Christmas, but they can hold a card in their hand that expresses they are loved by you.
First Year of Marriage
It’s amazing what the first year of marriage is like for a new couple. Once the wedding celebration is over, the marriage begins. Two becoming one can cause some additional busyness and stress. If you got married this past year, you have the first year bonus of sending out more than just a Christmas card. You get to send the 2-for-1 card: the thank you note and Christmas card combination!
Bonus #2, you already have you Christmas card list! More than likely, the people you invited to your wedding are the people you need to thank. Why not combine it with your first Christmas card together?
So pick out the perfect image or images, design a card online, write a general thank you sentiment about how they made your year so memorable, and then write a personal thank you on the card for the gift you received. Oh yeah, get your hubby to help with his half of the guests in writing the personal messages. Remember, two are now one, so half the writing comes from his hand, too.
Single And Loving It!
If you are like me, single and living life to the fullest, you don’t have to wait for the “I Do’s” and the 2.5 children before you send a photo card. A few years ago, I was tired of only receiving cards from my married friends and decided that God has blessed me with an adventurous, abundant life. So, I decided to stop sending the cliche Hallmark card and instead made an awesome photo card. And you know what? My fam bam and tribe said it was one of their favorite cards because I was celebrating the vocation of the single life. So if you’re single, be proud of it and share that joy with the world!
I Don’t Have Time
If you simply don’t have time for Christmas cards, you should take the advise of one of my family members.
She doesn’t send Christmas cards! She is too busy with work, family, and a social life that getting cards out in between Amazon shopping and feeding her family is nearly impossible. So instead, she sends a New Year’s Card!
There are two things are great about this:
- She doesn’t see her children and grandchildren until Christmas, so that’s when they take a picture for her New Year’s card.
- She takes note of who sent her a card during the holidays and politely sends one back to the people who actually cared enough to send her one.
She has more time after Christmas to sit down and reflect on the year and write notes to friends and family than prior to Christmas. Plus, as Catholics, we are still celebrating Christmas until the Epiphany. So feel no Catholic guilt about getting cards out during Advent. You’re actually being more liturgically accurate by sending Christmas cards out during Christmas season!
Keep It Real
I’m all for the professional photo shoots and the matching onesies, but can we all vow to keep it real?! The point of a Christmas card is not to impress people (What? Are you kidding me? It’s not?) or make anyone jealous (Again, what?). No longer do we live in a time of impersonal cards with snowmen and Santa on the cover. We can allow our cards to share our faith, our hobbies, our adventures, and our personalities.
One year, a family I know dressed up for Halloween as the cast of Star Wars and used it for their card. It was the most epic card ever! I’ve also had friends who do not post photos of their children on social media for very personal reasons (kudos to you sisters who do this) and their Christmas card is the one time a year I see them growing. It is so special to me.
The Ultimate Reason for Christmas Cards
So be real, and remember that this is not a competition for best Christmas card! The point is to send love and glad tidings to those you care about most. Christmas is the time of year we take stock in who matters most to us. It’s a moment when we step back, turn on a Hallmark holiday movie, write a well-intentioned message of love, and send it over the miles for $.60. For less than a few dollars (card and stamp included), you can make someone feel loved. I think we need more of that in the world today.
If you don’t have time at Christmas to pour your heart out to someone on paper, pick a holiday and send a card out then. My vote would be Groundhog’s Day! Oh, you were thinking Easter? You are much holier than I.
At a minimum, say a prayer for every friend or family member who does send you a card this Christmas. They are conveying to you that…
Happy writing (and labeling, and licking, and stamping)!
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Tricia Tembreull is a regular contributor to the BIS blog and a devotion writer. She is a California girl with a boundless passion for life. After two decades of ministering to teens and youth ministers as a trainer, ministry mentor, and speaker in Catholic youth ministry, Tricia now serves as Campus Minister at USC Caruso Catholic Center. She loves adventure and seeks it everywhere she goes. As an avid foodie, she enjoys testing new recipes out on friends and family, gathering them around the table to encounter Christ in one another and be drawn to the satisfying unity we crave in the Eucharist.