Why Send Christmas Cards?

Each year as Thanksgiving draws to a close and I turn the calendar to December, I look forward to sitting by the fire with a glass of eggnog and queuing up a Christmas movie with a stack of cards, stamps, pens and address list by my side. It’s Christmas card time.

You ask, “Is it worth the effort?” You say, “It costs too much money.” You comment, “I’m tired of getting the Christmas letters where everyone’s kids are perfect and they brag about their travels.” And finally, “Everyone’s on social media anyway, what’s the point?”

I say it’s worth it and if it’s a priority, over fast-food and Grande Mucho-latte-frappe coffees, then budget what you can afford and enjoy slowing down your life for an evening or two. And finally, put the little green monster out with the trash and practice being happy for others and sharing in their joy for life. It can be quite refreshing. Here are some of the reasons why I send Christmas cards.

  1. I reflect back on the year God gave me, the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the monumental and the mundane. As I write notes on each card, or sometimes include a brief letter, I realize time really does fly and God is good! I see that way more happy things occur than sad ones. I can tend to dwell on the bad stuff and need to keep that in check. I am reminded to leave the past where it belongs, live in the present and look forward to the future.
  1. You can send a traditional card with beautiful artwork and well-crafted verse from hundreds of choices or send a photo card. There are multiple online companies as well as your local department and drugstores with photo card services now.
  2. If your budget is really tight, it’s perfectly understandable to send to those loved ones who live far away or aren’t on social media first. Then send to those special folk who have blessed your life this year and tell them they have! What better way to say thank-you than during the season of the Savior’s birth! If you still have a few left and are out of stamps, think of the silent servants in your life, those who do things you take for granted like the teen who pumps your gas because you still hate pumping it yourself, and maybe hand him a card next time you’re filling up.
  1. Even with social media where your friends and family are updated about every aspect of your life, admit it, it’s always nice to get something besides junk mail in your mailbox. Especially if your name is written out in longhand! Do your 3rd grade penmanship teacher proud, cursive is so much better than pre-printed address labels. Don’t forget to add the special edition Christmas postage stamp in the upper right hand corner too!
  1. Christmas cards are cherished by those who receive them. I remember visiting neighbors growing up who made a garland around their living room out of all the cards they received. Others taped them to the back of their front door. Still another made a yearly “Fridge Gallery” with the photo cards and I’m guessing were glad the faces peering out did not see how they looked first thing in the morning as they reached for the milk for their coffee. A family I know puts all their cards in a basket and beginning January 1st picks a different one each day and prays for that person or family.
  1. Remember, not everyone is tech savvy, there are still many who do not Email, IM, FB PM, Snapchat, Skype or do Facetime. They appreciate a greeting card the old fashion way.
  1. I can share my faith with a Christmas card unlike any other time of the year. Do you send cards reminding people that Jesus is the Reason for the Season in the dog days of August? Some years I sent out a letter and made mention of God’s grace throughout the year. Other years it was a simple card with a Nativity Scene expressing my reason for celebrating Christmas. With photo cards it was sharing the joy of a growing family and all that is Merry.

So this year, maybe you’ll still send cards, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll need to trim your list due to budget constraints or maybe you’ll decide that this year you won’t send any and concentrate on another aspect of the holiday important to you. If you don’t get one from me, don’t feel slighted, I promise I’ll try to greet you with a “Merry Christmas” when I see you and if you do get one from me, please, don’t feel you have to send one back if I wasn’t on your list. I won’t be offended. I’ll be celebrating the birth of my savior regardless of the number of cards I receive and pray that you will do the same.

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Vegetable Thankfulness

Thanksgiving dinner often includes turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing and gravy. On the side are cranberry sauce, turnips, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and rolls with butter. Those offerings, if not enough to stuff us all are followed by pecan, pumpkin and apple pies and copious amounts of coffee. Ahh…the gorging of the holiday season has begun.

But what about the have-nots, what do they gorge on? You know who I mean. The nameless, faceless “others” you hear about in the media, read about in the newspaper and clink pennies into the red bucket for at stores town-wide from now through the end of December. Will they partake in a thanksgiving dinner this year? Do you care?

I know I ask “Do you care?” fairly often but I think we all become desensitized while enjoying our excesses and need to be constantly reminded how fortunate we are. Recently, teaching a group of children I asked what one thing was they could be thankful for this year. A young boy said, “I’m thankful I like squash.”

Squash. Not a video game or candy or that his “wish list” of presents would be realized.  Just squash. When his sister chimed in that she loved broccoli, I realized they were from another planet (okay, actually from Pennsylvania) and that I ate way too few veggies.

It got me thinking again, do the have-nots get to have squash or broccoli on Thanksgiving? Do you?  Do you at least have the choice to purchase them if you want? Think about it for a minute. You have choices. More than most. You are reading this online instead of doing something else right now. You can go to the store and pick from dozens of vegetables and have the money to pay for them. The “Haves” can, the “Have-Nots” can’t.

Once years ago, my daughter and I came out of the grocery store having rapidly spent $100 on basics like milk, bread, eggs and pet food. We literally had a dollar bill left in our pocket and I said okay to her dropping it in the red collection bucket. It prompted a great conversation about how we so easily spent the hundred and how far our measly dollar could go when used by an organization that helps the “have-nots”.

So, what are you going to do this year? Can you give something to the “have-nots” so they can have something to be thankful for? Think about all that you have to be thankful for…and remember if a four and six year old can be thankful for squash and broccoli, I’m sure you and I can be thankful for all we have and share some of it with others.

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