I would love to be able to claim that I'm trying to save the environment by not sending paper cards, or that I'd made a sizable donation to my favorite charity in lieu of spending money on postage, but unfortunately, that just isn't the case. The plain truth of the matter is that I just refuse to spend money on greeting cards this year. Even when one takes the cheap way out, and I always do, there's still at least $15 in cards, fridge pictures to put in most of them, and about $30 in postage to send them out--and most of them go to people with whom I have no other contact throughout the year.
Does that mean I don't WANT to send them? No--what it means is that, this year, I can't justify the expense when it might take away gas that goes in the car, oil that heats the house, food to feed us, or giving Andrew the things he wants for Christmas. I don't want to sound all Gift of the Magi here, because I'm certainly not selling a prized possession (do I have one that's worth anything?) or making any great sacrifice. Hell, it even saves me some time and some headache to not send them out. This year, when I have yet to purchase a gift with less than two days to go to our family's Christmas kickoff debacle (yes, those words are in the right order--it's the first of several debacles), that time is going to be valuable.
But the thing is, I do want to send them--I'd like nothing more than order up some professionally-made, glossy print, snazzy-as-all-hell cards that would make the lucky recipients go, "Wow!" We've gotten some of those cards in the mail already, and I proudly display them around the doorway in the living room. James and I even have a tradition of saving those cards from year to year, storing them in gallon ziploc baggies or a shoebox. When we drag the Christmas crap out of the storage room every year, the cards are there to go through--we comment on changes the kids have made and people that stopped sending us cards for one reason or another. But most importantly, we reflect on the cards that people who are no longer with us have sent us, and it magnifies the nostalgia and the wistfulness that always accompany the holidays for both of us.
So, here it is--less than three days away from Christmas, and I'm resigned to the fact that I'm not sending paper cards. People may feel slighted, and maybe we won't get cards from some people next year as a result. That will make me sad--unfortunately, I think it's a sign of things to come as "the times, they are a-changin'." The eco-friendliness, techno-savvyness, I-don't-have-time-for- thisness, and the it's-a-matter-of-survivalness is going to catch up with more and more of us, and eventually, I think the Christmas card will fall by the wayside.
All that being said, just like our old friend Ebenezer Scrooge, I find it harder and harder to focus on the joy that's expected at this time of year. Unlike Scrooge, though, it's not because I have forgotten Christmases Past, but because I dwell in them. It's not because I don't concern myself with Christmases Future, but because I make myself sick with anxiety about what Andrew's Christmases and the world itself will be like in five years, ten, etc. Are the Christmas cards a big deal? Not in themselves, but as a symptom of things to come (and go), they have me worried. So, here's your global card--happy holidays, and whatever God you pray to, may he or she "bless us, every one."