Perhaps this writer sends the wrong signal by beginning a post on holiday cards with a full-chested sigh. On the other hand, the writing and sending of such cards has become so much the chore these days. And such a wonderful and traditional way of wishing some gentleperson(s) a happy Christmas and/or holiday season should never be a chore to one. Yet, we often take what should be a wonder-filled way of reaching others and turn it into a task that we dread as the holiday season approaches.
When we finally force ourselves to actually write the cards, many of us rely on the sometimes hackneyed and/or often syrupy prose sometimes found in purchased cards in stores. Now, dear reader, please understand that this writer has nothing against the assembly-line and most probably sincere fond wishes proffered by those fine folk at Hallmark(c), but the holiday season and the coming of a new year bring us a rare (as in 1/12 of the year) opportunity to express our true feelings for friends, loved ones, and others in our circles of love and laughter. In short, such is too important to be left to the generic greetings penned by a stranger.
No, the gentleperson of letters will endeavor to choose appropriate cards for the recipients. Choose a card with a good design. And as with many things, the more simple, the better. Religious cards have their place for the right person or two, but the safest and best choice might be a winter scene or some similar secular holiday motif. The card should not be too large–the 6″x4″ size should suffice for our purposes–and the envelope should not be overly adorned with baroque angels or festooned with images of fir garlands.
Often, this writer receives a printed letter from a chum who has put together a summary of the year’s events. These usually begin, “Our Dear Friends,” and often include a recapitulation of the significant other’s hernia surgery or an update on grandma’s phlebitis. Those are areas of concern and possibly prayer, for sure, but hardly the stuff to share with a chum and family during this festive time, and it’s almost insultingly impersonal, even if the writer includes the fact that the vacuum still finds the dog’s baby teeth in the odd corner every now and then. What the so-called “holiday letter” means to the reader is that the writer is, in effect, saying, “Yes, I know I should have written a real letter some time during the year, but please accept my attempt to make up for not writing by sending this printed personal newspaper.” The practice is simply not in the spirit of the moment.
The true holiday card is the one carefully written with love and true, warm, feelings. A true holiday card should warm the cockles of the heart as a hot toddy might on a cold December evening. The true holiday card might inspire someone to a kind deed or stir a good thought for a friend who took the time (but not trouble, since writing to a chum is hardly trouble, mind you) to wish another gentleperson a happy holiday. Keep it simple, and keep it appropriate to the season.