How I Simplified My Christmas Cards

lettersMailing Christmas cards has been my favorite holiday tradition for years. While most bride-to-bes daydreamed about white dresses and wedding bells, I instead looked forward to what came afterward: the sending of my first family Christmas card, over eight years ago. Glass of red wine in hand, Bing Crosby on repeat, my favorite Sharpie and a list of people I love? Heavenly.

Except for this year, when I jumped on my computer to reference my Christmas card mailing list and print some addresses and – poof – it had vanished. Completely gone, nowhere to be found. And suddenly, my favorite tradition put on a cowboy hat and rode off into the sunset, Bing Crosby riding side saddle.

My first reaction was to blame my husband because he re-formatted the computer last, but blaming him for doing something nice is kind of an a-hole move, so instead, I counted to ten. (Also, he’s notoriously specific about re-formatting, so the chances of a document getting lost under his care is highly unlikely. The more believable story is my tornado tendency to delete everything, all the time. My virtual trash can overfloweth.)

And after I thought about it or a bit (and counted wayyy past 10), I thought, surely I don’t need a list to remember the people I love?

But as it turns out, the list wasn’t a list of the people I love. It was a list of the people I felt obligated to, which was another list entirely (one that doesn’t really deserve an Excel spreadsheet).

Friends, we’re bumping into people every day. Relatives here, friends of friends there. People we follow on Instagram that we sometimes Tweet and other times follow on Pinterest. Social media has made the world large, but we’ve made it larger because we’re good at that. We’re good at making things big and kind of monstrous, really. We’re hard-wired for more and mega and major.

And most of the time it’s great. But when your Christmas mailing list tops 142 (guilty) and you’re spending your children’s future college education on postage stamps (guiltier), it’s time to simplify.

I think my computer did this for me. With no spreadsheet to reference, no knowledge of who sent a Christmas card last year or who has a sister that moved to Colombia or where my long-lost great uncle Donald lives, I had to make my own list:

Who I love. Who I cherish. Who needs some good cheer. Who I miss. Who would smile at a happy, handwritten note. Who I would call for a good cup of coffee. Who I would call in my time of need.

It’s a list free from obligation, a list full of heart and soul and memories and well wishes. And although it might take extra long to dig up their addresses this year, it will be well worth the effort.

To everyone else this Christmas: I cherish your friendship. I cherish you. I hope our paths cross again soon, even if my family’s photo isn’t sitting atop your mantle. Merry (simplified) Christmas.

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