Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Does the Grinch send Christmas cards?

Twizzle's holiday post got me thinking maybe I could blog about my traditional pre-Christmas stress/anxiety/guilt-fest.  Right after pulling off Barley's small but successful, at home, no frills birthday party, instead of feeling happy and relieved, I was overwhelmed by dread and stress.  All I could think about was this monster holiday list looming ahead of me in the post-Thanksgiving season. 

I'd like to complain that it is Barley's fault, for depriving me of the long weekend to get started on Christmas to-dos, but I must admit I have always had this holiday stress. I remember being anxious even back in grade school, when my plans to make presents for everyone had me worrying about getting done in time.  I stressed out in college about studying for exams before Christmas, only to arrive home with a scant week to get all my shopping and cards out.

What is it about this season that makes me want to be Martha Stewart?  I have long ago accepted that I am not a neat housekeeper, not a decorator, not a gourmet chef (though I am a 5-star gourmand), and frankly, don't have time to be the idealized 50's housewife.

But at Christmas, I want to be.

I wrote out my list of Christmas chores and reviewed it:
  1. Hangs greens on staircase
  2. Write Christmas letter
  3. Take Christmas photo
  4. Order Christmas photo prints
  5. Print Christmas card labels
  6. Assemble Christmas cards
  7. Mail Christmas cards
  8. Get Tree
  9. Install Tree in living room
  10. Put lights on Tree
  11. Decorate tree
  12. Hang outdoor lights
  13. Set up lawn reindeer and tree
  14. Bring out Christmas plates and cups
  15. Go see Vasona Lights
  16. Hang Christmas stockings
Did you notice that 6 of the 16 things stressing me out are related to sending out my Christmas cards?  This is a huge part of my stress.  I brought the topic up at a Christmas gathering of close friends, and some offered the good news that when your children are older, the need for photos and annual letters dissipates.  There is less interest in the ongoing health problems, and once kids are in college, they don't change so much year over year.

I also realized that more than half the people I am sending cards to, are also connected to me on Facebook, so they have been seeing pictures of my kids all year, and heard about some of my adventures.  If I could just post my annual Christmas letter there, and upload a photo, I would be done already!

But there are still many friends on my list who are not on Facebook.  If I am going to do a mailing campaign for 30 people, I might as well do it for 75, right?  Or am I kidding myself?  A home birthday party with 6 kids was WAY easier than 22.  I should probably analyze how many non-FB friends I have, anyway.  Maybe if there is under 20, I can just order extra wallets of the school photos next year.  Getting a good holiday photo is always a large part of my stress, since waiting for Christmas decorations to go up somewhere prevents me from getting this requirement done way ahead of time.  There is a similar time constraint on writing the Christmas letter.

On the other hand, I could have printed out the labels months ago, and didn't.  Can't explain why, other than being busy or intimidated because I forget the steps to do it every year.

I tried Twizzle's idea of trimming the Christmas card list, so I reviewed my 75 names, and got it down to...64.  It would make sense to remove people I haven't heard from in the last year...except that this is the one time per year that I can validate that people are still at the same address I last heard.  And I know how busy I get, so I hate to hold that against people who might be happy to hear from me and just don't have time to write or call much.  I love getting Christmas cards myself, and use them as part of my decorating.  I even save some of them to use again in the future.

I also worry that skipping them this year might mean losing contact with them forever.  They are on my list because we had a connection in the past--I hate to let go.

Then there are the people who I am sending cards to out of obligation.  They send me one every year, so I send them one back.  Or they are part of a group of 10 families who know each other, and I would be embarrassed if one saw a card on someone else's fridge that they did not receive.  I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

I know I am way overthinking this. I am open to ideas and suggestions for next year.  The photos are already printed for this year, so I am committed to the card-photo-letter plan for 2009.  I would love to figure out a way to make it all easier next year, though.


  1. I don't think I have the addresses for 64 people. Unless I send it to former workers.

  2. OMG. This is why I don't send out Christmas cards. =)

  3. Quesiton for both of you. If you don't send cards--do you care about receiving them? Is it nice, or just guilt-provoking, irritating, other-people-bragging-about-their-lives junk mail?

    I am trying to figure out if I should stop sending cards to people who don't send cards back. I don't mind sending them--it's not like a tit-for-tat thing. Part of me wonders if I am really spreading holiday cheer, or just annoying people.

  4. I have to say, it must be your irish guilt that makes you stress and feel the need to send cards. Trust me, I know. I just sent yours out.

  5. I am compelled to offer up perspective, having lived long enough to grow someone who can knit complex mittens for me, and write a blog ("Muskeg"). My grama did a jillion things around the house and around the holidays, but the thing that my cousins and I remember is, she was funny and loved us to pieces. That's what matters, really, really, really, and I know, I tried, too, to be Martha Stewart every holiday (ask Muskeg about when I made sashes for the French Club). NONE OF IT MATTERS, except to send cards to people who want to track the progress of your family. I would note that the very adept DH, Barlie and Teddy could pull off item 1 and items 3-16, leaving the brilliant writer to handle #2. Just a thought. :)


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