Brooding On

The Great Christmas Card Debate

John and I rarely argue.  Seriously, it's true.  But every year at Christmas card time, I know I can count on a disagreement. 

First, some background . . .

I love to receive Christmas cards!  I look forward to the mail everyday during December.  I laugh, I cry, I proudly display the beautiful photos.  I make a pile of new ones by John's plate at dinner so that he can see all the new ones that come in each day.

So, it would follow that I would also send Christmas cards each year.  I'm pretty sure that we've sent out Christmas cards every year since we've been married.  I know we've sent out photo cards every year since Girl 1 was born, 8 years ago.  And, every year, our list of recipients grows.  The year it reached the 100 mark, John convinced me to print the address labels on the computer.  This saved me tons of time and a few hand cramps, but one recipient commented that it felt a bit impersonal (I agreed), and I was right back to hand-addressing the following year. 

Our recipient list is now well over 150, so the stuffing, addressing, stamping, etc. takes significant time.  But, honestly, I love every minute of it.  The assembly-line aspect of it is mindless and methodical.  And, I enjoy pondering each person and what they mean to me as I address their envelope. 

But, over the past 8 years, our lives have changed a lot.  Our list includes people all over the country (the kids from John's old youth group in New Orleans who are now adults living all over the place, family from New York to Louisiana) and beyond (we send a card to Girl 2's foster mom in Guatemala every year). 

Every year, I document who we send cards to and who we receive them from.  It seemed that our Christmas list just continued to grow and grow and no one was ever "cut" from the list.  I proposed to John that we cut from the list anyone we hadn't heard from in 3 years.  It seemed a reasonable policy to me, and I could easily look back and see whether or not we'd received a card from them within that time frame.  Maybe we've been mailing to a bad address?  Maybe they moved long ago, and some random family is getting our Christmas letter and chuckling about the goings on of this strange, silly family in Arkansas.

John's philosophy regarding the recipient list is pretty simple:  no one is EVER cut, for any reason.  We add to the list.  We do not detract from it. 

And yet, every year, I can't help myself.  I ask him to take a look at the list with me and just be sure there aren't any adjustments to be made.  And, then we begin the disagreement.  Again. In my defense, one year that he didn't even want to look at the list, he happened to notice as he helped me put the stamps on that I'd addressed one card to a person from our old church congregation in New Orleans who, unbeknownst to me, had passed away during that year.  It's not that I'm a Grinch or something.  I want to spread Christmas cheer and greetings to many.  I just don't want to spend the cash for the card and stamp, only to have it "returned to sender" the week after Christmas.

And, yes, I know that the whole traditional Christmas card routine is far from green, between the gas used to deliver them and the trees used to print them.  But, I've received Christmas cards via email before, and it's just not the same.  Sure, I can forward them on to John so that he sees them, too.  But, I can't display them for all to see.  We can't pass it around the dinner table and talk about how big the kids in the photo are getting, for example.

Thoughts?  Do you send holiday cards?  How do you deal with your list?  Do you "cut"?  What are the criteria for "cutting" someone from the list?

Also, would you like to be added to the list?  I'd be happy to have any faithful reader added to the recipient list.  You put up with my ramblings; you should be rewarded by a cute photo of my family and a holiday letter that aims to make you smile.  ;)

And, please, add us to your list!  We'd love a Christmas greeting from you!