Advent, My Way #19

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Christmas cards—yea or nay?

Christmas cards have never been part of my holiday regimen, not even in my Martha-Stewart-wannabe stage. I don’t make ’em, I don’t send ’em, and, predictably, I don’t get many.

I’m not even sure this is a tradition beyond the United States—for those of you in New Zealand, the Netherlands, Great Britain and other assorted locales—is the sending of cards, specifically for Christmas, a holiday practice?

There are so many variations on the theme of holiday cards and they seem to change and come in and out of fashion.

Plain cards, fancy cards, handmade cards.

Cards that include long missives about a family’s accomplishments and adventures for the year that is waning.

Cards that are little more than a photo of adorable families/children/pets dressed up in holiday finery.

I imagine Christmas card sending has dropped off in the Facebook era—we keep up with even far-flung friends so much more frequently and easily now that the holiday card may have become largely obsolete.

In spite of my disinterest in the whole “Holiday Greetings” endeavor, I love this little collection of Christmas postcards that were sent to my grandfather, “Master Willie Wright,” when he was a boy in the early 1920s. They come from as far as North Carolina and Niagara Falls to a little boy in Saranac.

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I don’t know if all children received so many cards or if this was just something he loved especially. He wasn’t a sentimental man but these cards were kept and saved for his whole life.

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Given the condition these cards are in, I believe he did play with them!

They please me in their vintage look and style, the few words on the back done in that lovely old penmanship.

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They are a collection of pretty snowy scenes, with lots of red and white and pine and poinsettias. The messages focus on happiness and good cheer, much as today’s cards do.

I am surprised, though, that they are not at all religious in tone—not one of them features a nativity scene or mentions the “reason for the season.”

I wonder if, in another 100 years, there will exist a collection of Christmas cards from the early 21st century. If we’ve traded the sending of cards for the evanescent greetings of social media, what gets tucked away and saved?

Where do Christmas cards fit in your holiday? Do you send them? Do you keep the ones you receive? Or is this all a thing of our past?

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65 thoughts on “Advent, My Way #19

  1. Some years (like this year and last) the only holiday decorating in our house are the cards from others lining the mantel. We try to send a card back to each person who sends one to us (other than, perhaps, the clearly business related). And frankly, I personally send a holiday card to each person who purchased a painting from me in the previous year… to thank them and to remind them I’m still out here painting. Our cards were made from a painting that I’ve done that has some sort of holiday theme and I use a popular printing service to have them made up.

  2. I love seeing the vintage cards — and that one could be addressed simply to “Willie Wright, Saranac, NY,” and it would reach him and his family. My sweetheart draws and paints a new holiday card every summer for us to send to family and friends. So we are fans of the ritual as a result!

    • I know–that address is really sweet–and if you could see the tiny town of Saranac, it would probably still work today! Maybe you should do a blog post, featuring some of the cards your honey has created? I’d love to see them!

  3. Card giving is still big in the UK – though not quite as big as it was, with social media and some people saying they’re making a donation to charity instead. I still send some cards and get some in return.

  4. I like the idea of Christmas postcards. Easy to frame or prop up as decoration. I’ll do some research on that as it might be something that I’ll do next year. Yes, I do send a few cards but only to those friends or family members that I won’t be seeing over the holidays.

  5. in love with vintage post cards! I still enjoy sending cards ~ saddens me that social media and e-mail types of cards have taken over. (like willedare’s post- what a wonderful idea)

  6. i still send cards but not as many as I did years ago. It seems that the tradition is falling off rapidly; most people I talked to this year were not planning to send any. No one sends paper birthday or anniversary cards, either – I still do and I’m considered “quaint,” LOL.

  7. Your cards are beautiful, and though I’m not very sentimental and not a saver, I would keep these.

    We do send cards most years, though the list gets shorter all the time. Sometimes we include a brief run-down of the year, often on half or even quarter of a sheet of paper. This year was not one we want to memorialize that way. We receive very few cards these days. Many are just a photo. There are fewer holiday letters than there used to be. I’m not sure if that is good or bad.

    Facebook and other e-means to keep in touch are useful. I do resent them being used (facebook, especially) to announce deaths and marriages. Really? Vince died and you had to announce it in facebook rather than even something like an email? Harsh… Really? You and Patrick decided to get married yesterday and you told your siblings in facebook?? huh…

    Tangents… 🙂

  8. I love sending and receiving cards. Hand made and ones with family pictures are especially welcome. I am singularly unimpressed by people who apologize for not sending them because they are giving to charity. Bully for them. Can’t they do both? Why tell me, am I supposed to think they are wonderful. Is my friendship not worthy of a stamp? Long may card giving continue. I love your collection of vintage cards, what a wonderful momento. My Dad died a couple of years ago. I display the last card he sent me still.

  9. I still send cards. Not as many as the past. I love to receive them. They sit on top of the bookcase and become part of the holiday decor.

  10. I have succumbed to e-cards as they help me deal with the December 22 panic that I’ve sent no cards. I still send “real” cards to some relatives and friends who live without much use of the internet. I used to do the whole personal letter thing, but decided people probably didn’t care. Your vintage cards would make a wonderful fabric if they were photographed and printed.

  11. After moving far away from family and friends 30 years ago, I treasure the cards and letters I do get, although each year fewer and fewer come. And each year, I take time to write a Christmas letter that neither boasts or laments the past year, but just shares the events as I would over a cup of coffee. I’m all for Christmas cards, birthday, anniversary, and get well cards. It’s a simple and inexpensive way to reach out. I guess, in that, I’m an anachronism–and proud of it!

    • You should be proud of it! Think of the pleasure you’re giving! I think that balance in a Christmas letter, not bragging or whining, makes all the difference. I see toooooo many of the bragging ones!

  12. Oh dear…. I guess I’m going to be the odd ball here… I don’t do cards. I don’t know what to do with the few I get. I feel guilt if I just throw them in the trash ,and then I feel bad because they look so cluttered if displayed,so they just get stacked to meet the trash can after Christmas. The vintage cards are interesting though.

  13. I think Christmas cards in 2016 are probably considered ‘old fashioned.’ But, then again I’d definitely fall into that category as well. 🙂 I sent about 20 cards total this year and all to people in my similar age bracket or older that don’t live on Facebook. There is still something very special about writing a card to one person and making my comments directed to him/her. And, then there is a similar thrill to receive one in the mail with a couple of sentences directed to me. Cursive hand writing and snail mail still play a role in the season but probably not for much longer. Some day people will talk about the old days and explain using cursive handwriting to send paper cards in the mail with a stamp, and the kids won’t understand or believe it. 🙂

    • I think I’d like sending cards better if my handwriting wasn’t deteriorating. It must be because I “write” on a computer so much but my hand gets tired and my writing gets sloppy so quickly . . . .

  14. I jumped on the slippery slide to hell this year and joined an e-card service 🙂 Better something than nothing being my motto! Previous to that I made handmade cards for months ahead of time and sent them out. Nothing like when I lived in the UK though and back then you were expected to give a card to everyone who breathed within your vicinity and if you did not then the next year you were ignored 🙂 I was taken by surprise and failed spectacularly. I think that was when I realised it was a tit for tat thing and gave it away. Now I only send cards to special, far-away people that I won’t see over the holidays. And this year they will be e-cards!

    Your vintage collection is wonderful. I had some lovely old cards and gave them away as part of my clearing out process. I’m going minimal in terms of collections 🙂

    • There really does seem to be a tit for tat aspect to this particular tradition. That’s okay with me–I don’t participate and don’t feel bad about not getting cards. I don’t know how long I’ll keep my vintage cards–I have a bunch more of them from other holidays. Willie got a lot of postcards!

  15. I don’t send cards to people whom I see, or to people I haven’t seen in ages. Life moves on and so do the people you associate with. I too don’t get huge amounts. Enough though to give the house a festive feel.

  16. I’m so surprised that you don’t send cards, I thought it would be something you enjoyed! At school, everyone in class would write a card for everyone else in the class, which was sweet. Some of my friends send me cards in the post, but I’m mostly too lazy to send any in time for CHristmas. My parents, however, send and receive cards from everyone they know! They all include those little family newsletters, which I never get to approve before they’re sent away, haha. It’s a nice way to decorate the house – one wall of our sitting room is always covered with cards. I love the retro ones sent to your grandfather! The traditional signs of Christmas – bells, ribbons etc are my favorite x

  17. Love the vintage cards, beautiful penmanship too. I only send cards to a few elderly family members. Everybody else gets a personal email. If I get beautiful cards, i frame them or use them as bookmarks. I really enjoy that. xo Johanna

  18. I always send cards. Love them. Love to get them. Spend time picking them out. The list has shrunk quite a bit down to 25-30 people and I like hearing form them, too. Some I talk or correspond with during the year, others, not as much. I put the cards in a little sleigh my grandfather built and save them until the next year. Then out they go…

  19. We don’t send cards anymore. It was one of those stresses that my DH said no more to. I had several years feeling guilty, but now I post a note on Facebook that friends can open if they choose, and try to send some personal letters via email or post to a few friends and older relatives. Those vintage cards are wonderful! I remember the good old days when my address was simply Wannaska, MN….guess I’m getting vintage too!

    • It’s funny–I never started sending cards at the holidays so i never had to make a decision to stop, hence no guilt! Wannaska sounds like a tiny place–a card sent to a longtime resident might still get there!

      • It was tiny, 9 kids in my class, and That was after consolidations! 50 in the town, way up on the Canadian border. Now, however, they have 911 addresses…

  20. I still send out some Christmas cards, mostly to friends overseas and to family and friends who also live far away. I don’t have Facebook and still feel the art of writing a letter and putting it into the mailbox worth preserving. In fact, I try and write not just Christmas cards but a few handwritten notes throughout the year, my way of upholding the tradition of that old craft. I still appreciate the thought of opening the mailbox to find something other than a bill or an advertisement…..a letter, for me!! How nice!! How many Christmas cards leave our doorstep? Probably 20, each with a little note to a specific receiver. I like pausing to remember and think of that person as I write a little note to them. And your vintage cards, Kerry…..wonderful! Worth framing!

  21. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the conversations following your post. I love sending and receiving “snail mail” and continue to send cards at Christmas. Mike enjoys it too. We both hand sign the cards and include a few sentences. We receive fewer and fewer cards each year, and most of them lack any personal vibe: just a mass-produced card or photo with the family name pre-printed. For me, part of the card-sending is to ask about the person on the receiving end. I save birthday cards and thank you notes, but unless it’s a handmade card, I don’t generally save the Christmas ones, mostly because they’ve grown so impersonal. I treasure the hand-made cards I receive. They’re really special.

    I’m not a fan of most Christmas letters myself. I actually feel a bit uncomfortable reading them if that makes sense. I wrote a parody of one on Facebook one year and it got a lot of laughs. I mentioned my latest attempt at keeping the cat litter contained and the fact that my boys were now men, meaning they still bickered but using manly voices.

    Lots to think about in this post, Kerri.

    I LOVE the vintage cards and think making them into bookmarks or other cards is a great idea. I made a card using vintage postcards once upon a time and really had fun with it.

    • Your parody Christmas letter sounds like a hoot! Maybe you should share it in a blog post so more of us can enjoy it? I’m not surprised to hear that you are a thoughtful card sender–it fits with everything I know about your caring, personal style!

  22. I used to be an avid Christmas card sender. but I haven’t sent any at all in recent years. Partly it’s a lack of time but cost is a big factor too. For less than the price of a card plus postage, I can phone a friend or family member. And as we are all getting older, I feel that hearing someone’s voice is now more important than a card. .

  23. I still send cards and we still receive quite a few though not as many as we used to do. Most of my very large family and many of my friends don’t use Facebook or Twitter and I have no idea what my cousins e-mail addresses are! Cards are our way of keeping in touch and we all put messages in the cards (not long boring accounts of our achievements). I often wonder whether those people who say they give to charity actually do donate anything! I sent about 40 cards this year and spent about £14 on postage and quite a bit more on the cards themselves. I always try to buy charity cards (a percentage of what I spend on the card will go to a specific charity). I don’t keep many, only ones from special people or really pretty cards. After Christmas we take all the cards we don’t wish to keep to collection points in supermarkets etc and the cards are recycled and money is raised thereby for yet more charitable concerns.

    • That’s a lot of different wats to support charity! I never heard of collection points where cards are recycled but it is really a sensible idea–otherwise, the potential for waste is huge.

  24. I’m late stopping by because I was busy sending out my cards. 🙂 I love those vintage cards and they are such a treasure. I keep wanting to make my own but the time flies by and they don’t get done. I’m the oddball that sends out cards all year long for any possible reason. My circle of people to send to has decreased substantially as I’ve aged and moved too many times. I did just sign 19 for our Quilt Group Christmas party yesterday. But they lent themselves to more generic greetings such as Happy New Year added to my signature. I love those kinds of cards. Next year, I’ll get my own made. Hope you had a great Christmas and the new year will give you much fodder for blogs. 🙂

      • I think we all still like to get snail mail. It makes us feel thought about. I don’t just sign and send. Each card gets a personal note. I’m big on Thank You cards and birthday cards as well. It’s a way of connecting. I’m not much good on the phone anymore so the written word has to be how I communicate with those I care about. I want them to feel cared for. It is a dying art though.

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