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?

Words on offer

Holiday Mail 2

As we draw ever closer to our Sunday wedding, I find myself reading and re-reading the many notes and cards we’ve received over the last few months. Some came during my bridal showers; others were dropped in mailboxes across the country to wish us well (like Melissa’s, which so touched my heart).

When I talk to others about my love of mail, I often get a wide-eyed look and knowing grin. Their little smile says something plain as day: Well, aren’t you just adorable?

I mean, I get it: mail is considered old-fashioned. Stodgy. Outdated. Letters are a thing of the past, really; one step up from antiques or — gasp! — printed books.

It’s not cool to send mail. Or collect stamps.

But I wish I could change that.

I love to write letters — real, serious, tangible letters. Cards. Mail. I write to my grandma, I write to service members, I write to folks who simply need some love and light in a complicated world.

I spend at least part of my day almost every day with a Sharpie and stack of note cards, sending some words out into the world . . . for no other reason than I feel compelled to do so. It’s my small way of sending joy.

I’m not rich. I don’t have piles of money for worthy causes, though I wish I did. But words? Encouragement? I can do that. I will offer that. Which is why I send letters every year through Holiday Mail for Heroes, a program sponsored by the Red Cross. It may sound a little early to be writing out Christmas cards, y’all, but life is going to get super busy very quickly. It’s not too soon to start thinking.

It’s a simple thing, really: a humble piece of mail. Just words scrawled in honest-to-God handwriting in blue or black or red ink. But it means something to someone, I promise you — just like it means something to me.

Don’t give up Facebook or Twitter or email . . . but remembering how much you value your real-life connections, too. Instead of dropping a “how’s it going?” text to a friend, grab a card. A silly one, a funny one, a random one — whatever speaks to you.

Then let it speak to them.

Holiday Mail 1