Yup, it's that time of the year again. Normally, I love sending Christmas cards. Last year I sent about 80 of them, and since stamps cost $0.49 each, it gets a little crazy (especially because I request the Christmas stamps, and that always flusters the post office people...now why else does Canada Post keep issuing these stamps if not for Christmas cards?). I like to find the happy holidays kind, with generic and safe snowmen or glittering ornaments or stars, preferably blank inside since I write out a long message to each person on my list. Then I close the envelope with a Christmas seal and send it with a Christmas stamp. It takes me the better part of a week to get all of this done, but I start early and that's the kind of thing I enjoy. Of the 80 I send out, I maybe get a dozen back, which is okay with me. Christmas cards are becoming obsolete, and I know why.
No, it's not just that people are cheap and think they are too busy (yeah, like you couldn't sign your name to a few cards while you sit in front of the TV for four hours!). People are afraid of offending each other, and for good reason.
To me, Christmas is not a really a religious holiday anymore. I went to Catholic school as a child, so I was brought up on all the hype, but as an adult, I just don't believe in organized religion. I have my own beliefs, and on Christmas, I celebrate my family. It's still a special holiday for me, I love the time of the year and I still get really excited about seeing everyone, spending time with friends and family, visiting, catching up, finding special gifts for my sisters, baking delicious treats for everyone, decorating a tree and my home...typical holiday stuff.
But people don't respect that not everyone celebrates the holidays in the same way, and that not everyone celebrates them at all. So my collection of Christmas cards varies extremely (I keep numerous scrapbooks, and one of them contains all the cards I have received in the past few years).
My in-laws, for example, still see me as the heathen that is corrupting their precious Jason. Looking back on the cards they've sent us (which they only started sending once we were legally married and therefore could be acknowledged), their messages include:
-May God bless you both as you share and rejoice in the birth of Christ Jesus our Lord.
-Jesus loves us...everyone one!
and my favourite, which his grandmother underlined several times as she wrote it:
-Remember Jesus is the real reason for the season . Make room in your heart for Him.
My Nanny, who is a good Catholic, does not somehow veer toward the religious in her cards. She never writes much because she's not that comfortable writing in English (and if you've ever heard her French, you'd really wonder which language she does speak!). However, her cards do show what her first priority is:
-(2000) p.s. We'll be expecting you at xmas also Jason.
-(2001) We will be expecting you and Jason for xmas dinner.
-(2002) Got your new address. Thanks. Hope to see you both for xmas dinner.
-(2003) Hope you're feeling better and can make it for xmas dinner.
How funny is that?
My mother's approach to Christmas is great: she mixes in her religion with all the other great aspects, and she never takes herself or anything else too seriously. However, my mother really is too cheap to ever buy a card.
A good friend of mine, Sarah, has been sending me cards since we were first friends, back in 1996, and I still have every one of them. She writes Christmas cards the way I think we all should: with a personal message in the spirit of friendship (plus, she always remembers to date them!). It's funny to me to look back on the progression of our friendship.
1996: To wish you all the special joys of Christmas!
1997: I remember last year and the elaborate card you made (2 hours colouring little xmas trees), and I'm sorry this card isn't as 'psychadelic' but it will have to do. I wish you pleasant experiences with your most interesting teacher. For now, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Hope 97 was an awesome year, but 98 will kick!
1998: It's been great knowing you, hope we have many more great experiences as friends. Thank you so much for all your help in French class when you sat behind me. And never forget our CD that 'flubbered like green jello'!! (Sarah, how could I forget? In fact, I still have it, in yet another scrapbook...remind me to show it to you next time).
1999: It snowed in the Sahara desert on February 18th 1979. Love always, Sarah.
2000: Hope that all is well and that you're enjoying your new apartment together. Keep in touch.
2001: I hope you both have an enjoyable holiday season. Also, I want you both to know that I wish you all the happiness in the world-together.
2002: I hope that you have a very merry Christmas and an even better New Year! I wish you both all the happiness in the world.
2003: I haven't seen enough of you lately. I'll make more of an effort in the new year to keep in touch. I wish you both a happy holiday season and a festive new year.
The best of the rest:
1996: Dear Jamie, just wanted to give you this card to remind you that holiday magic is not found in every smile, not unless you have a Christmas decoder ring. Just so you know, I couldn't find a Thunder from Down Under calendar, sorry bud, Anna.
1997: Howdy ho, Jamie. Have a marvelous white Christmas with lots of expensive gifts, gross egg-nog, and alcohol! Love, Shannon. P.s. I addressed the envelope backwards on purpose!
1998: The picture on the front of the card made me think of you the way you've been partying lately (it's a drunken reindeer). Thanks for being there for Jay when I couldn't be, luv Danielle. (Danielle was Jason's then-girlfriend...how funny is that?)
1999: Hi Jamie-I was quite disappointed the other night because I tried to call you but alas, you were not to be found, which means you were not abiding to my rule that you do not have a life. Guess what? I got my eyebrow pierced so now I can be one of those crazy English-speaking people who scares young children. Cool, hey? Have a very merry xmas but not too much fun on new years, k? Love, Jamie.
2000:To the happy couple: Hope your first Christmas is your apartment is especially kinky! Love, Melissa.
2001: Haha, look, the angel has a tree up her butt! Love, Mom
2002: Hamster Girl and Trouble: Hope Santa is good to the two of you. If you get tired of the couch and wanna go into the public (clothed), give me a call. Love, Karen
2003: I won't bother reprinting these because sadly, they all have the word health underlined.
If you receive any holiday cards, you start to realize just how crazy your friends and family are. But it's still nice to know someone is thinking of you, right? This year I am not sending out a big batch of cards, because it is too hard for me to sit down for that long. Instead I am baking Christmas cookies for all the friends and family who cross my path, because you can do that standing up.
I hope this has inspired you to get a card and send it to someone you've been thinking of.
Finally, here is a card from me to you, and here's hoping that it offends each and every one of you!