I love Christmas cards. I love receiving them, love checking the return address to see whom they’re from, love opening the pretty envelopes, and I adore reading the personal note each sender took the time to write in their card. Yes, believe it or not, people used to write a personal note on their Christmas cards. Hard to believe, right? This year, out of all the cards we received, over half were unsigned. The sender took the time to buy cards or have picture cards made, took the time to address the envelope and stick a stamp on it, but couldn’t be bothered to include a brief note or to sign the card to identify the sender. If not for the return address, I wouldn’t have known whom half the damn things were from because I know the sender professionally and have never met or seen their kids. This new trend of sending “anonymous” Christmas cards sucks. I could blame social media for this trend, but I appreciate social media too much to make it the scapegoat of bad manners. There. I said it. Sending a Christmas card without a personal note or a signature is bad manners. (I suppose at some point in this post I need to honestly share that I don’t send Christmas cards. I do other things to connect on a personal level. I guess that makes me a total hypocrite. Whatever.)
In the old days, people sent Christmas cards to express affection and to let you know they cared. I’m trying to cast a positive glow on the current trend of sending cards anonymously, but I’m having a tough time putting a positive spin on this trend. Have people stopped signing their cards because a signature and a smidge of personalization takes too much time? Is it because people only send cards because they feel compelled to do so by chains of tradition and are in a hurry to check it off their list? Do people now stay so current on what’s going on in each other’s lives via social media that they don’t feel the need to be social on a Christmas card? Or, on an uglier note, do they no longer bother to sign their cards because sending Christmas cards is no longer about expressing affection and is now solely about bragging and bringing attention to the sender? The impression I’m getting is that sending Christmas cards is now about showing off and has very little to do with any affection for the recipient. We received cards with pictures of new cars, pictures of foreign vacation spots, pictures of new homes, and oodles of pictures of “perfect families” glowing with perfectness. Maybe the truth is that personal notes are no longer shared because personalization requires honesty, and honesty might defy the image presented in the picture.
Don’t get me wrong. I genuinely appreciate the effort, I just don’t see the point. I could live with this if the reason for the lack of personalization was that a busy young mom simply forgot or missed a few, but this is too consistent to be an accident. To send a card without personalizing it is wrong on every level possible. Call me old fashioned, but that’s how I feel. To be bluntly, brutally honest, if you don’t care enough to sign your card and include a personal note, don’t bother sending it. Save yourself the effort. Save the paper. Save the stamp. Just send me positive vibes and maybe shoot me a personal email wishing me a Merry Christmas, Happy Festivus, Serene Solstice, or whatever your personal holiday is. Enough said.
My favorite card this year was received from someone I know is going through extremely rough times. This precious woman spent money she didn’t have on very inexpensive Christmas cards. They weren’t showy and weren’t very pretty, but they were from the heart. She addressed them by hand (no computerized address labels) and delivered them personally to avoid having to buy stamps. She not only signed her card, but she wrote a personal note. The note she wrote was sincere and transparently from the heart. It filled the inside cover and spilled over onto the back of the card. I suspect she took the time to write a personal note of equal length to every person she chose to give a card to. THAT is the spirit of Christmas. Her desire to share her affection was so strong that she gave sacrificially to do so. I display her card in a location where everyone can see it and where just seeing it blesses me on a daily basis. I threw the unsigned cards in the compost heap. Maybe next spring they’ll serve a purpose.