Hold-it-in-your-frosty-paws holiday greetings


Some folks dream of fame and riches, others of sexy cars or roomy mansions.

Me? I’ve long daydreamed about . . . family Christmas cards.

I grew up with a caring mom who paid attention to details — especially at the holidays. Come mid-November, we were always preparing for our big, old-fashioned family photo for the holiday greetings she would send in early December. Mom usually wrote a letter to accompany the card — a precursor to Facebook updates, you know — and still does.

Though I am an unabashed mail geek, I always found something so sweet and cozy about getting a photo card with loved ones’ faces: smiling at Disney World, celebrating the first day of school, posed with Santa. Kids feature prominently but the adults are there, too, holding a hand or lifting into an embrace.

As soon as Spencer and I began dating, I started imagining our Christmas card. I’m obsessed with stationery and postage, so coming up with mock greetings was . . . well, sort of a pastime. I have a sample card I made in 2010 — the year we met — and saved somewhere in a dusty computer file. It was never ordered or sent, of course; it was too soon for that. But I liked creating it. It was fun knowing it was there.

When we married, I knew Christmas cards would be my first order of business. Since our wedding took place in November, I worried about having to send thank-you cards at the same time as holiday notes . . . and even contemplated combining the two into one piece of mail.

And then I realized that is crazy. Who can get too much mail?!

Last year’s card — our first — was especially fun, given we were fresh newlyweds. I spent forever debating various photos and designs, let me tell you. This year’s was awesome, too, because it included that special announcement from us! And Spencer in a Santa hat, which is a rare sight indeed.

Us at Christmas

Most folks might have already heard about the baby through phone calls, email or social media — but, you know. Everyone knows it’s not official until it’s on cardstock.

I love everything about the card-sending process. Gathering addresses, choosing stamps, sitting down with a Sharpie, finding elegant seals and stickers . . . it’s a whole thing for me, and I can’t imagine giving it up. When I was sick as all heck two weeks ago, I stayed in on a Friday to watch a cheesy Hallmark movie and get all my cards prepped. Minus all the nose-blowing, it’s a pretty sweet memory.

Though I love the Internet (hi!), nothing can replace the warmth of getting a real, tangible, hold-it-in-your-frosty-paws Christmas card in your mailbox. This is the one time of year I fight Spence to the end of the long driveway, wanting to be the first to uncover whatever arrived that afternoon. We haven’t received too many greetings just yet, but the season is still (relatively) young.

And I’ll never stop checking.

That’s what mail lovers do: we send. And we hope.

Do you send out cards at the holidays, either with or without personal snapshots? Is it a family tradition for you, too?

Lending a (written) hand: Holiday Mail for Heroes

Every Thanksgiving morning, my sister and I get up early to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and honor a new but very fun tradition: addressing our holiday cards. As the bustle of Christmas really ramps up and we found ourselves long on things to do and short on energy and time in which to do them, it’s easy to let simple craft projects — like card-making — fall by the wayside.

I’m a strong believer in the power of mail and connecting through the written word. I’m an active member of Postcrossing, an international postcard sharing site, and trade handwritten notes with friends and fellow bloggers as often as possible. In our increasingly high-tech and high-powered world, the art of letter-writing — any writing, really — appears to be less relevant. Teens talk and write academic papers in LOL- and text-speak. Facebook groups annouce engagements, babies, travel plans. We communicate through Twitter and texting. We don’t even pick up the phone.

And look, I get it — I’m pretty plugged in myself. It’ll be a cold, dark day before you pry my smartphone from my limp fingers or get me to shut down my social media or this blog itself. But I don’t think those channels should replace things like real, honest-to-goodness mail. In 100 years, will anyone be looking through family heirlooms to read old love tweets between their great-grandparents?

Well, I mean — maybe. Who knows. Look how much our technology has changed in just a decade. In two decades. It’s unrecognizable.

But you’re following me on this, right?

Last year while snacking on breakfast foods and waving to Santa on his sleigh ride through New York City, I did something simple: while writing out my usual batch of cards to friends and family, I added a few cards for Holiday Mail for Heroes. I used my regular Christmas cards, most of which I buy in boxed sets for less than $10. I added a personal note thanking a service member for their sacrifice and shared news about my corner of the world, trying to spread holiday wishes and cheer.

It’s cheap. It’s fast. It’s very easy. And it makes a difference.

Operated by the Red Cross, the Holiday Mail for Heroes program asks volunteers to send holiday cards to be collected and distributed to military service members in December. Now through Dec. 9, send your cards — any holiday card you like — to help make someone’s season brighter.

“The process is very simple and takes no time at all,” the Red Cross writes. “All you need is a pen and piece of paper to share your appreciation for the sacrifices members of the U.S. Armed Forces make to protect our freedoms. … Sending a ‘touch of home’ to American men and women who serve our country is the perfect way to express your appreciation and support during the holiday season.”

Holiday cards can be sent to:

Holiday Mail For Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

For more information and card guidelines, visit the Holiday Mail for Heroes website — and check out the video below. See if it doesn’t warm your heart.

Gather the family and make card-sending a new holiday tradition. You won’t be sorry you did.

Get a holiday card from Meg!

As we’ve discussed before, I’m big on mail. I’ll give total credit for this to my grandmother, with whom I still write letters and pour through old handwritten notes. She recently shared with me letters my great-grandfather wrote to my great-grandmother when he was serving abroad in World War II, and do you think I was completely absorbed in those? I was. I love the written word: the personal nature of holding in my hands something another has touched; the vibrancy of ink on paper; even the mystery of deciphering someone else’s handwriting.

And even more than that? Well, I love sending mail, too. I’m hopelessly addicted to Postcrossing, an international postcard project, and take time almost daily to write notes to others around the world. I love selecting a postcard for a stranger, then describing why I chose it — and photographed a place or event in the first place. It’s exciting, personal and fun. It’s another way to form a connection.

In that vein, I’m proposing a project for myself this holiday season! In addition to sending cards for the Book Bloggers Holiday Card Exchange, I will be mailing holiday cards to anyone who requests one for themselves in the U.S. (one per household, please — and I’m sorry, my international friends! It would be too cost-prohibitive to send many notes overseas). No need to send me one back, unless you would like to . . . and in that case, just drop me an email for my snail mail address.

There’s no catch here — ask for a card and you’ll get one. I’ll do my best to honor each request and get it in the mail to you soon! Should I be crushed with recipients, this may turn into a New Year’s or Valentine’s project. Or St. Patrick’s Day . . . or Independence Day . . .

Kidding. Only kidding. (Maybe.)

Fill out this form by Friday, Dec. 10, and then check your mailbox! Of course, this information will be seen by my eyes only. I won’t be sending you anything other than a holiday card, and I definitely won’t be sharing your address with anyone else. This is just for fun and non-creepy — promise.

Comments on this post are most welcome, but please don’t include your address or any other sensitive information! Submit that to me privately by filling out this form.

Happy (early) holidays, my friends!