You have your cards; I have my calls

The telephone is more personal and more meaningful to me than a quick note inside a storebought card

The conversation starts innocently enough. “What are doing for your Christmas card this year?” The season is upon us, and my friend makes her inquiry rather matter-of-factly at our lunch gathering.

 Ready. Set. No! I have abandoned Christmas cards—holiday cards, if you prefer—and I am not looking back. I am positive about and completely satisfied with my decision.

I suppose my friend is hoping that with a little gentle persuasion I might come to my senses. “Finally, Kay, are you climbing back on board after your hiatus in joining an alternative culture?” she questions with her probing eyes. If I want, she’ll hold my hand and take me out shopping so that I may find my way once more into abundant consumerism and conformity.

Let me get this perfectly clear before you think that I am Scrooge and too cheap to buy traditional store stock cards and postage stamps. I am not a lazy person who feels hassled by the holidays. Simplifying the season is something that we have chosen to do in our household, and I have not lost the spirit, nor am I avoiding the giant ongoing December party.

 For years, our family sent out handmade cards. I am grateful that my artistic husband planned out his design in the fall. We advanced to newsletters filled with my early forays into writing. These tidbits about trips, kids, and our achievements during the past year were well received. 

However, something triggered inside me. I realized that I needed to engage with others more personally throughout the entire year. Instead of a hastily written card sentiment like “hope all is well with you and yours,” or “let’s get together,” I wanted to be sincere and involved, especially if someone is going through a rough patch and could use cheer.

You would think that being a writer would propel me into using social media to spread greetings. I’ve emailed holiday messages, and I know that many acquaintances find this impersonal, but it covers a lot of territory. I will say that Facebook makes communicating with a larger number of friends all year long much more natural and spontaneous. 

 I examined my card list. There are people on it that I have met once on a trip—it was grand at the time—and, realistically, we will never meet again. Others date back from so long ago that there is no reason anymore.

Now, when the mood strikes me any day of the year, I pick up the phone and make that conversation meaningful. I will admit that at Christmas I stay on the phone a lot longer connecting with family and friends—I listen, too—and visit as much as possible. It has become a new way to celebrate the joys of friendship that must be cultivated, otherwise those with whom I once shared a bond of affection sadly disappear into the woodwork.

My lunch friend puts her fork down on the table. “Do you mind receiving cards and cute children’s pictures from others?”

“No, keep them coming, folks. I cherish each one. That is your way of spreading love to me for the holidays, and I respect your good intention.”

Who decides I have to send cards anyway? I am happy with my own interpretation of the holidays. I look forward to the music, the tree, and fruitcake—ah, my love of the rich dessert is not negotiable.

Kay Thomas is a freelance writer living in the Genesee Valley whose writings can be found at Thomas is the author of a book of essays called And One More Thing.
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