Christmas Cards are another project for the Christmas season. There are two kinds – those with pictures and those without. Before we had kids, I used to buy the paper cards and write a short personal note in every one. I had hand-addressed each envelope. I thought it was important to not make Christmas cards a mass mailing. Even my daughter’s first Christmas card was a paper card with a spot to slide a photo in. I wanted to continue that personal touch.

Flash forward several Christmases. I have gone to the mass mailing side. I order a preprinted picture card and use address labels for both the return address and the mailing address. I sat down one January and entered them all in. I still hand address envelopes of the families that have moved during the year, but they will go back to labels next year. I don’t think it is impersonal, because the majority of the cards I receive are done this exact way.

Worried that I was following the crowd, I decided to change things a little. I did a Christmas newsletter for a couple years. Most people think they are stupid, but I enjoy reading them. In the years before Facebook, I had no idea what my cousins out of state were up to. Same applied to friends that have moved away. A yearly Christmas card was the only thing that was keeping those lines of communication open. I only sent the newsletter to those people. My local friends and family didn’t need to know my daughters played softball. They could come to the games.

One year I went a step further and made a slideshow on CD of our year in pictures. I had Christmas music in the background and words at the bottom of some of the pictures. I got a lot of compliments, but it was a lot of work for me. The next year, I went back to preprinted picture cards.

The picture cards are not just for the family with 2.4 kids. We get grandparent cards with the whole family in the picture. Many of the picture cards we get include the family pet. Why not? They are every bit a part of your family. I have even seen cards that show the family’s new house. I hang the cards we receive on the three doors in our foyer. Everyone that visits stops and looks at them.

The picture is always the most difficult thing to pick. In a group photo, one person always looks bad. It is hard to look through a year’s worth of pictures and find one where everyone is looking at the camera, with perfect hair and no wardrobe malfunctions. I remember trying to take a picture of the kids and the dogs one year. After taking 25 pictures, nothing could be used. Now they have these great cards that have separate photo frames. You can have a family picture Christmas card, but use only the best picture of each person. Whoever thought of that should be sainted. It saves hours of time and frustration!

And what becomes of all of those cards when the season is over? I actually save mine. I put them in large Ziploc bags and label them with the year. I keep them in the boxes of Christmas decorations. It is fun to look back on how everyone has changed. My old neighbor used to take the paper cards and make ornaments. My aunt uses the front of the paper cards to reuse as name tags on next year’s Christmas packages. Most people, however, throw them out.

I have even heard some talk that some people are going to send e-cards. I guess the thought is still there – barely. Even with all the work that goes into the cards, I would miss them if they were gone. I appreciate all the rushing, stress and hard work that goes into them. They are the last of the snail mail that people enjoy getting and a Christmas tradition that is worth keeping.