In our era of I-see-pictures-of-my-friends-across-the-country-every-day-on-Instagram, must I really dress up the family, drag them around some park wearing Christmas outfits on an eighty degree October day, then pay some nice photo service to print a few hundred copies of said photo with a seasonal greeting stamped on top?
I’m not sure.
To me, it feels like the whole purpose of the holiday card changed. I remember when we actually read the text on gold-foiled cards emblazoned with “Joy to the World.” We looked forward to reading a typed “holiday update” from friends and family we hadn’t seen since their last year’s greeting. Christmas cards that contained photos were especially exciting because all other communication through the year contained no visuals. The focus of the greeting was the message, not the handsomeness of the family.
Now, we see photos of friends and family all the time. So have we lost the purpose behind holiday greetings? Has all of our social connecting negated the need for Christmas cards?
Every December (Okay and occasionally in November because some of my friends are overachievers), I look forward to checking the mail. Whose picture are we going to get today? I wonder.
I sort through the bills, junk mail, and . . . Ooooh! Here’s one!
I rip it open and see a Pinterest worthy clothing color scheme (Her scarf matches her daughter’s bow and the teeny little stripe in their son’s plaid shirt—cute!), a gorgeous background (Were they in the Caribbean this summer?). . . and, I think . . .
That’s nice, but didn’t I see this picture in my feed yesterday?
The whole photo-centric part of the neo-Christmas card tradition makes me feel as if I’m partaking in some sort of bizarre holiday beauty contest. A contest where no one is really awarded the “prettiest Christmas card” prize yet, with the opening of every new envelope, I subconsciously morph into the Joan Rivers of Christmas Card critique. “Oh, that’s a cute design. Love how they coordinated outfit colors with the card background.” Or, “That’s a great picture of her, I wonder where she found that dress?”
Something else goes on in my heart that I’m not proud of. Now, when I send my cards to you, I’m no longer thinking about you and reconnecting because it’s the holidays. Instead, I’m thinking: Wow, I hope our picture makes you think well of us. And, some years: Shoot – I hope you get my card within a reasonable amount of time to when I got yours so that you don’t think I left you off of my list!
Then there’s the price tag. The annual family photo can cost you anywhere from $100 to $600 (or more, depending on the photographer). If you are like me, you pick up a few new coordinating wardrobe pieces for said photo. Add $100 (I shop at Target). Then you must purchase the cards. Add another $100 or more. Then buy the stamps. Add another $50 (although who really keeps track of how much stamps cost now). And address labels. There goes another $10 and a day of my life trying to get them to print correctly. Soon, for the price of this project we could take a three day cruise to Mexico.
Last year I printed 200 Christmas cards. I sent 125. That left me with 75 copies of our family Christmas card and a terribly awkward situation. I can’t just throw away all those lovely pictures of my kids, can I? That seems mean. Maybe I’ll need them for our family album or something (We don’t do a family album). So, I keep them. Every year. They fill a drawer now. (Please call the nice people at the “Hoarders” show and report me.)
So, I ask you, do we still need to send Christmas cards? Is this $500 project really a priority in my Christmas budget? Do you really need my family picture in your card stack to have a brighter holiday?
I’m not sure.
But I’m definitely going to sit down and rethink this as soon as I get these cards mailed.
Do you do Christmas cards? What do you think? Are holiday cards still necessary?