I fully admit that I started mailing holiday cards as a sort of humble brag. You know what I mean. The message on the card said, “Wishing you a happy holiday,” but everything about it screamed, “Look at my perfect little family!” If my only motivation was to wish you tidings and good cheer, I could have mailed a picture-less card. Instead, I sent you a perfectly posed picture of my family.
These photos were justified in the days before social media, when it was one of the only visual updates of our growing kids you might see, but now almost everyone on my mailing list is on Facebook and can peek at my family whenever they want.
And, still, each year I schedule a session with a professional photographer, which snowballs into purchasing new coordinating family outfits and painstakingly choosing the card layout that best complements our pictures.
Then, I send them out to you, but I promise. There’s so much more behind those cards than a basic humble brag.
In a digital age, these cards preserve my memories of my young family in a tangible way. I save our annual cards in a dedicated photo album, and it’s a joy to unbox them each year. They mark little things like my children’s height next to my husband and me. They make me imagine what cards will fill the blank pages in the future, and they cause me to chuckle, thinking about the chaos of every day life that lives behind those neatly groomed and smiling faces. These are typically some of the only full family photos we have from the entire year.
Since photo cards are the status quo, and I love getting your cards in the mail (even the humble-braggy ones), I figured you’d like to see ours, too.
More than that, the message on the card, however generic it may sound, is heartfelt.
Writing out your address on the card’s envelope has become one of my favorite things to do in December. I marvel at all the changes that come in the year, and it’s a chance to take stock of who’s in our lives and what they’re doing: who’s moved, who had a baby, who we’ve fallen out of touch with, who’s passed away, and who’s joined our list since last year.
Social media newsfeeds have managed to desensitize me to the big life announcements that happen throughout the year, but writing your name and carefully copying your address forces me to pause and really think about you. I’m not very religious, but this is the closest I get to praying; with each card, I take a moment to reflect on our connection and where you are now in your life.
Our smiling faces plastered on that card really are trying to beam good will your way. They just happen to be doing it in complementary outfits. And, hey, it could be worse.
I could have sent you a newsletter.