Christmas Isn't Christmas Without... Christmas Cards

Literally every year I have grand plans to be organized and efficient. I get this idea into my head that Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in America, I'm going to sit down and write my Christmas cards. Then they're going straight into the post, and everyone will get their Christmas card well in advance of Epiphany.
I was so close this year! I got everyone's addresses onto a label sheet on, but have yet to print it out. The cards are purchased and are patiently waiting for me to scribble a joyful little phrase, and they may have to wait awhile.
Explaining this annual tradition to, say, an intergalactic visitor would be difficult. Why am I, and many others, compelled to write to people this time of the year when I otherwise never talk to them?
My mother uses the postal service only under 2 circumstances: postcards from her travels, and Christmas cards. I'll let you decide which one causes more stress.

Throughout my lifetime, Christmas cards have evolved. In the 90's people composed newsletters giving a year's worth of developments in the Jones family, condensed into a 5-page booklet. Super boring; so many names I couldn't put a face to (because not only have we never written to these people since last December, we've also never seen them since I was 4). Then everyone had to get themselves to the photo studio for a nice family holiday photo. Jaded cynic that I am, it was difficult for me to get enthused about these blonde haired children with obedient smiles in their little suits and party dresses.  Now, thanks to digital photography and the internet, all my friends with kids send me these post cards with a mini collage of their adorable angels and a printed message; I strongly suspect that pens never even touched paper. This state of affairs makes me a little sad, and puts me at risk to spiral into an existential, "what does it all mean?" and why bother crisis. There is a fine line separating practical convenience and insensitive time saving. I'm not sure where it lies, but I think one can be safely on the right side with a mere stroke of the pen.
So there's my answer to you, Mr. Spock:
 Image result for spock

I write Christmas cards because there are people in the world who claim a space in my memory. They've been in my life since I was a toddler. Even though I never see them that much, there was a moment in time that they provided me with kindness and generosity, and they may be doing it still. So I want to commit the time to them, put pen to paper, and let them know, at least once a year, that their lives intersecting with mine, is still something I am grateful for. I write Christmas cards a little bit for other people, and mostly for myself; it's about a 60/40 split.


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