The evolution of Christmas communication

Christmas cards have always been a very important part of my Christmas holiday. I was always obsessed with mail as a child, and I loved getting mail, so it is not that big a surprise. As I have mentioned before, I wanted to be a mail carrier for many years as a child, even walking with our neighborhood mailman to a few houses when I was young.

I don’t know what it is about Christmas that puts me in a card-sending mood, but it does. I can forget to send cards for other events, but when Christmas comes around, I am raring to go. In fact, I make a point to go out the day after Christmas to purchase boxes of cards at 50 percent off, even though my wife tells me that we have enough. Can you ever really have enough? OK, yes you can.

When I first moved to Kalamazoo back in 1996, I moved in early December, and not many people had my new address. Even though I hated the thought of letters in Christmas cards, I decided to do one. It was a one-time thing just to let people know I had moved, give them the address, and a few other odds and ends.

When Christmas rolled around the next year, guess who wrote another letter? I didn’t move and had the same job, but I just felt the need to send another letter. Sixteen letters later, that tradition is still going strong. It is just a great way to tell people what is going on, in short detail, so they know what my family has been up to. Even with the telephone, Facebook, and email, it is still not possible to keep in touch with everyone.

And of course, no one is forced to read it.

Ever since we had children, the letter seemed to be more centered around them, as it should be. Every card we receive is hung around the doorways for all to see, the letters that accompany the cards are placed in a basket for all to read, and any pictures that come in the cards are displayed as well.

Several years ago, people started sending out photo “cards” instead of the regular Christmas card with the photo enclosed. While they are cute, I am not a big fan of those. Call me crazy, but I like cards. I don’t mind the pictures; I would just like cards to go with them.

My wife has been suggesting that we follow everyone else’s lead and start using those, as well. I declined her offer. My suggestion was that we can either include pictures in the cards or, as I have done in years past, have a photo or two copied into the Christmas letter.

When the subject came up again last year, I suggested we take a photo, make copies, and buy a couple boxes of the Christmas cards where you can insert the photo into the card.

After taking the girls to have their photos taken in October, my wife decided to purchase several of the photo Christmas cards that I despise. I write out most of the cards, but my wife will still do the ones for her family and close friends. I guess my handwriting is not up to par or something like that.

When I handed her a couple of boxes of cards, she informed me that she would not need them. “What do you mean?” was my response. My wife indicated that, since the photo cards came with envelopes, she was just going to send them out like that with the letter included.

“Without a card?” I gasped.

And that is how this Christmas ended up. I guess you could call it a compromise of sorts. I didn’t argue or make a big stink about it. As Frank Sinatra said, “I did it my way,” and she did, too.

Who knows what next year will bring? After all, I always said I would never write an annual Christmas letter, too.

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