Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Card Dilemma

Our Christmas CardYesterday I finally mailed out my Christmas cards and yes, I'm aware that they won't arrive in time for Christmas because I've put it off so long. Does anyone else have as much trouble picking out Christmas cards as I do? There are just too many competing issues to make the experience pleasant, probably because I'm too cheap--I mean frugal--to buy cards that are $20 a box so I'm always stuck with the B-list variety.

Being a rather religious person I prefer selecting an appropriately religious card as my one shot at a visual representation of the season but most cards that have a religious theme aren’t to my taste, with all the gold embossing and the "thees" and "thous" they're flamboyant enough to make Liberace look understated. So I go back and forth between the simple, modern, sleek Christmas card with a bland, non-committal “Season’s Greetings” on it and the card with the Michelangelo-meets-Precious Moments angel on the front which then of course brings up doctrinal issues with the wings and halos thing and there I am, stuck in Walmart without a clue as to what to do.

Should I go for the card with a dog in a Santa hat drooling on a Christmas stocking? That would throw the family off--they know I'm not a dog person--and if they received one of those in the mail they'd say it was proof that I'd been abducted by aliens and replaced by a pod person. Tempting. . . . Well what about a card with a cartoon showing Santa grumbling as Mrs. Claus says, "Lay off the eggnog Santa"? That too would give them something to think about and as such holds a certain amount of appeal but yet it's still not really "me."

The one that really tempted me was the box of Spanish cards with a festive Holy Family and cross on the front wishing all my loved ones a "Que tu Navidad esté llena de bendiciones de paz y alegría durante todo el año." I nearly bought them just for the confusion factor alone. I can just see Grandma showing the card to Grandpa and saying, "What is she trying to say? Is she Catholic now? What does this mean? I didn't know she spoke Spanish."

But I'm not that brave and I usually end up with the quietest religious card only to get it home, open it up and realize it’s got some cheesy, over-the-top Hallmarkian sentiment inside that I had missed at the store. Something along the lines of “May the blessings of this and every single succeeding most holy of Christmas days be with you and every soul you meet from now through the coming blessed eternities.” Followed by a scripture and a phone number where you can get your own free Bible. Where’s a nice, tasteful Nativity card with a simple “Merry Christmas” when you need it?

Sigh. I considered going with a straight Christmas letter, no card, but I couldn’t bring myself to abandon tradition so lightly. If there’s no card then I couldn’t very well be sending out Christmas cards now could I? It's just another letter. Why make it a letter at all? Without a card I could downgrade to email and still be within the legal definition of “keeping in contact.”

And what about the family photograph? I always send a picture with our cards but we just never got around to it this year and I kind of had plans to get one taken in January. Maybe I should just wait to send out cards then--is it bad to wait until January?

So round and round I went until I snapped out of it and realized that it just doesn't matter--the card isn't important, it's just a fun and pretty way to let someone know you wish they were around to celebrate Christmas with you. Once I realized that I picked a pretty card, had a great time writing a horrifically long 4-page, single-spaced letter (that will give them something to think about right there!) forced the kids to sign their names then mailed them all off (the cards, not the kids).

And as proof that I'd made the right choice, it started to snow.

Feliz Navidad.

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42 comments:

Lilla Blanka said...

Hi, I found your blog today, and I like it a LOT!
Wow, your Christmas tree is impressive!
Take care,
Mia (from Sweden) a.k.a Lilla Blanka (www.lillablanka.blogspot.com)

Makita said...

You are so creative and crafty - I'm surprised you don't make your own. Have you seen the cards you can make at Shutterfly??? I think you can even customize the text...

Anonymous said...

I refuse to send a card that says "Season's Greetings" unless I know it is going to a non-Christian, yet more and more that is what the inside of cards says. I try to find an understated card with a nativity type picture, if possible, and then another one with a pretty tree or wreath on the front, and "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year" inside. It should not be so difficult! In the past the "right" card was often from Caspari, but I have not been seeing their cards in our stores recently. This year I went with a Unicef card in the end- though expensive, at least part of the money goes to a good cause.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to your family!
Pam

Val said...

"...all the gold embossing and the "thees" and "thous" they're flamboyant enough to make Liberace look understated."

Ha! I might steal that quote!

You're funny.

Stephanie said...

You got me laughing this morning!

Might I suggest buy next years cards this year, after Christmas. Then you can get those A list cards at the B list price!

Jacki said...

I agree with you that it is so hard to find Christmas cards these days! I am a stickler for Christmas cards. It has to say "Merry Christmas!" No Seasons Greetings or Happy Holidays!

Kerry said...

Don't feel bad about sending Christmas cards late - mine will be in the mail the day AFTER Christmas. I'm trying to do as much "Christmas" stuff in the actual Chrismas season, rather than Advent. :) So, hey, you can use that excuse, too! HAHAHA!

I've had similar debates about card selection. I got some cards a couple of years ago (after Christmas and really CHEAP)- quite cute, not cheesy. But no religious conotations, so I was reluctant to send them. This year, I'm finally sending them - with a note that has a link to a family blog I've set up.

Now friends and family get a "letter" in the form of a blog. I don't know how many will acutally go to the blog, though. Of course when you send the letter, you dont' know who reads and who sets it in a pile and throws it out unread in April. :)

ashley @ twentysixcats said...

I enjoyed this! It always takes me forever too. For one, I'm really picky about the design. It has to look nice and not that I picked it from the "$1 rack" at Wal-Mart. I usually end up getting several different designs and send them out based on who is getting them. I like my cards to say "Merry Christmas" (rather than Season's Greetings). I usually get some generic cards for my non-Christian friends, some more traditional-looking Christian cards for my more traditional friends, and some contemporary-looking Christian cards for my more contemporary friends. Last year I bought some really expensive yet hilarious cards that were so me - I only bought one box and sent them to the people I knew would appreciate it. :-) I know, I think about this WAY too much! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one!

Irene said...

Well, first off, I haven't sent cards in a couple years. But, when I did, I was with you - no Seasons Greetings, or Happy Holidays.

I posted about this topic a little while ago. I have a hard time with cards. I like them, but prefer that they have a personal touch. I really like ones that include a note. Especially if it is to someone you never see otherwise.

I also really like photos, especially when the kids are little, and you don't see them often, because you can see how much they have changed.

Chris said...

Michelle, you're overthinking it. LOL!

I don't go for the religious-y ones. Sorry. But I will buy anything with a snowman on it. I love snowmen.

I agree with Stephanie. I always buy cards and wrap after Christmas for next year.

Sassy Lucy said...

Tell you my secret....I buy my cards for the next year, after Christmas....more time to decide and then I can send them out early.
Shop online...Current usually runs great sales as does Colorful Images. I even have enough cards on hand to cover next year :)
Though one of these years I plan on making my cards from scratch...
I had to laugh at the Spanish card, that could have been one for laughs and the record books.
Feliz Navidad
Merry Christmas
Season's Greetings
and all that jazz from the lower 48...Wisconsin to be exact.
Penelope Anne

Patty said...

I love it! You have me in stitches this morning! Thanks for the laugh.

I think alot of us have the same dilemna. The "perfect" card! I think the only way to do that is make them.

I found one I liked but the inside said Happy Holidays , so I crossed it out and wrote Merry Christmas !

I know a few people that are sending out "Happy New Year" cards this year...seems time has gotten away from everyone (including me!)which is always surprising because it comes at the same time each year!

Thanks for the giggles!

Marie N. said...

I'll second Staphanie's reply. I card shop on the 26th or 27th. Usually I can find what I want, religious but not sappy. {Send me the super ornate cards -- I like them:-)}
Except apparently, last year I forgot. We always do include a family newsletter in our cards. This year, because I forgot my purchase last year, the newsletter went out by itself. And "Card Shop" is written on my calendar for Wednesday.

Summer said...

I love that card! I think it's perfect.

dcrmom said...

LOL! I've given up on Christmas cards and go for the "photo card" these days. I know it's overdone, but there are so many cute ones these days. And then I avoid the whole "christmas card dilemma" of which you speak. :-)

For what it's worth, I love the card you chose. Perfect! :-)

Coralie said...

Every year I come inches from sending Kwanzaa cards, just to really throw people off. But I always chicken out. This year we did the photo card, now that we have someone to show off. :-)

Phyllis Sommer said...

Lol. This is why I just don't send cards. Too much to think about!!!!:) (it has nothing to do with being lazy, right??) P.S. How late today is the writeaway deadline?

Mountain Dweller said...

My Christmas cards went out today too and to make up for the fact that they won't be there by Christmas I fell back on the old French tradition of sending New Year cards. "Bonne Année" also resolves the problem with wording!

Joyeux Noël to you and your family!

Geo said...

Oh, the pain!

We're sending out cards—LATE— that we made in 2005 and never wrote or mailed. We have an advantage in the making department, since we are letterpress printers, but we more than balance that advantage out with sloth.

No letter, and no photo. Our 11th hour photo order arrived looking positively jaundiced, and I haven't got the heart to let our families think we are both cancer-stricken.

We don't have enough cards for people on our (two years older) list. It's going to be pick and choose. I hate that!

But like you I finally made peace with the whole thing, and I've resolved to be generous with the valentines in 2008.

Anonymous said...

It took me about two minutes to pick out my Christmas cards from Target ~ a box of mixed cards designed from patients at St. Jude. The proceeds go to the hospital. And to think that they were placed all the way on the bottom shelf . . .

I try to find "Season's Greetings" type cards, because we have many Jewish friends. How would they feel getting a "Merry Christmas" card? Probably the same way I would feel getting a "Happy Hanukkah" card.

I always send a letter and print an updated photo of the family directly on it - two pages MAX. And I keep it positive ~ no Hannah has problems with math facts, Jacob might have Asperger's, we're seeing a family therapist, so and so has cancer (that sort of stuff).

Lis Garrett
http://www.MelissaGarrett.wordpress.com

Pieces said...

I feel your pain.

I avoided your pain this year by not sending cards at all. Everywhere I went, women were stressing out about getting their cards done and I felt SO SMUG!

You know I'm going to have to do New Year's cards.

pussreboots said...

Next year you can make your own. There are a number of places that print cards. You can put any sort of artwork on the cover. I've been making my own for four years now.

Mrs. W said...

If I send out Christmas cards, I usually send them between Christmas and New Year. Of course the cards I select are rather generic and not too Christmas-y.

This year I'll be making photo calendars and sending them out in lieu of cards... much easier.

Sandy said...

I'm just glad you care. So many people don't even bother anymore, or worse, send the generic fakey-looking photo of the family in a photo studio and don't even bother to sign their names.

Yeesh!

Kelly @ Love Well said...

This is hysterical, Michelle. I know I certainly relate to the "I've been standing in this aisle for 45 minutes already, and I still can't find one freakin' card that is right for me" dilemma.

Like many other commenters, I now try to buy my next-year cards during the post-Christmas sale.

Of course, that too can backfire. We've done picture cards (Shutterfly) the last two years, so the cards I bought on sale in 2005 remain in their boxes, waiting for the day when they'll get used.

Tiff said...

LOL i had to laugh at that because I do the same thing every year!

Heffalump said...

My Mom, sisters, Aunt and I do a card making party every year, and make our own cards, but I always get stuck and only make a few.
I am the worst about mailing out cards. Mine will probably go out in January, because I am behind as usual this year.
My favorite Christmas card was one that had a nighttime scene with the star and wise men and said inside "Wise men seek Him still". It was pretty, and simple, and not too over the top.

Corrie said...

We like to joke around here that we send out President's Day cards.

Lisa said...

Now you've got me singing that Feliz Navidad song. (Da dee, dee, dee, dee.)

It is so difficult to chose cards. I now just do the photo cards. They are pretty quick and easy.

Course I only have one child to manage. I can't imagine doing it with four....

Maddy said...

Dear me, what a defeatist attitude. I'd like to tell you how I make all my own designer, stylish card, unique and carefully matched to each recipient, with attention to detail hitting just the right tone to each individual..........but I'm not a very good liar.
Cheers

This is my calling card or link"Whittereronautism"which takes you straight to my new blog.

Daisy said...

Many years ago we found a card that announced the sentiment "Silent Night" with a musical score underneath the print. The only problem: the music pictured was The Star Spangled Banner. Ah the fun of growing up in a musician family!

Robyn said...

I only WISH I could pick my Christmas cards. My husband buys a whole bunch of really awful ones the day after Christmas each year, when I'm usually working. Then the next year I have to pick the least bad ones and try to secretly donate at least one box to Goodwill.

cheeky said...

I think someone as crafty as yourself could make your own card. In your spare time, of course - hee hee! At least it will say exactly what you want.
xo

Rani said...

Spot on! I enjoyed this post, especially the reference to going round and round. I feel like that in the card aisle, too. I myself abandoned the card and went with the letter and photo. But, you make a great argument and for that reason, I may bring back the card next year. I better start looking now...

Crazy Working Mom said...

I do the picture cards from wal-mart.com. They are quick and easy. I know they are less personal than others, but it's simple.

Merry Christmas.

Tisha @ Crazy Working Mom

My Ice Cream Diary said...

I'm so glad to hear that I'm not the only one with such Christmas card issues. I've finally found peace in knowing that a card will bring just as much joy to someone without the personal handwritten note inside, and that Christmas is still legal for 3 days after New Year day (which is when most people will be getting their cards this year).

Janet said...

The card is beautiful. You chose wisely. I've been posting about our Christmas card dilemma (as you know). I used to do cards, some with a letter. Then we had kids, so we did the photo cards. The first year, 2004, we had to reorder them twice. So some people got Christmas cards and some got New Year's cards. In 2005 the photos/letter went out mid-January of 2006, along with William's birth announcement (October 3, 2005). Last year I managed to get them out December 27. This year seems to be likely a rerun of 2004, but there will be no letter because I'm still writing it. So next year maybe they'll get 2 letters.

luckyzmom said...

I so enjoyed learning your method of Christmas card selection. I buy mine for half price or less at the sales after Christmas. I hope Christmas doesn't get cancelled for awhile because I have quite several years worth.

Mercy's Maid said...

It's funny that you brought up Spanish Christmas cards.

My mom accidentally bought some beautiful cards with the holy family on the front and a wonderful message about the hope and peace of Christmas. Only they're in Spanish. So she gave them to me because I have Spanish-speaking friends and she doesn't. I've been sending them to random gringos too though--just for the fun of it.

Leslie said...

I make it easy on myself and go with a photo Christmas card I can make on-line. Two birds, one stone. Works perfectly.

Ter said...

For me, The last 2 years I have just made my own cards on the computer, but this year I didn't have the time nor the energy at the time, but luckily I found THE PERFECT card. It had a picture of a bear with an angel. This was perfect because my daughter is an angel in heaven and her nickname is babybear. So, these are the cards we sent out this year. No idea what we will do next year.

Christmas Cards said...

I love the card.. very beautiful