Christmas Cards

I’m now 75% finished with Christmas cards. I’ve run out of the 40 I originally bought, so all the people that are new on my list, or that are beyond number 40 on my list, are getting cards that I’ve stashed from other years.

It’s sort of interesting, seeing how my moods are reflected in different cards – last year was New Yorker covers and images from the book The Polar Express, one of my favorite Christmas books. The year before that was leaping reindeer surrounded by Christmas lights, and gold trees on texturized paper, and then, in years before those, there were the Edward Gorey cards (still my favorite, ever), the High-Tech Christmas cards, three different Mary Englebreitt images (I love her artwork – it’s so whimsical), and an image of a snow-covered Golden Gate Bridge.

I try to have at least one design every year that can be used for Hanukkah as well as Christmas, and I have two Kwanza and one Ramadan card that I buy for specific people. The vast majority of my cards push peace, because I figure it’s a universal enough wish that no one could be offended, and if they are, tough.

A family friend, HMF, has her family choose their favorite card from all they’ve received each year, and there’s a part of me that knows I’ve won this informal and completely prizeless competition for the past three years, and wants to do so again, but this year’s card – three candles, one with a tree, one with a menorah, and one with PEACE, isn’t really spectacular, it’s just the one that spoke to me when I confronted the vast array of boxes at Barnes and Noble a couple weeks before Thanksgiving.

I love writing out cards to people. I love writing snailmail too. There’s something really special about a tangible letter, in real ink, on real paper. Physical mail may not be immediate, and it’s likely the information inside is completely outdated by the time it arrives at its destination, but it’s still special. It’s an act of love, just as homemade presents are.

My once-pretty handwriting has fallen victim to the combination of disuse and carpal tunnel. It hurts to control a pen, and I’m ashamed of how bad my penmanship has become. But I’m writing in almost every card, anyway. Even if what I write is really really brief. Those who receive them can trouble themselves to decipher, or not, but I’m fairly certain they’ll get the gist.

I’ve been using card writing as a mini-meditation, in the afternoons. I bring a steaming mug of tea up to my desk, and let Napster radio play the “jingle jazz” station, and I write to the accompaniment of Harry Connick, Jr., Steve Tyrell, and Natalie Cole, as well as the standard carol crooners: Sinatra, Mathis, Bennett, Clooney. It’s retro-tunage at it’s finest, and I revel in it, and sing along as I write.

It’s not yet the new year, but I’m making a resolution to do more letter writing. I have three deep desk drawers full of stationery – it’s meant to be used, and seen, and writing shouldn’t be limited to Christmas cards.

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Christmas Cards by Melissa Bartell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.