season’s greetings – the dilemma
’tis the season, it seems. the time of year that brings close encounters with many things that are regrettably scarce throughout the rest of the year: heightened faith & hope, special times with family & friends, cheerful spirits, generous giving, grateful hearts…and stamps. the holiday season brings with it an influx of snail mail, or as i like to call it, real mail.
when the mountains of holiday cards begin to fill the mailbox, i used to feel a particular sensation of excitement mixed with dread. while i’m eager to check the mail, tear into the envelopes, and display the colorful greetings, i always felt pressure to reciprocate with a standout card worthy of display in someone else’s home. even when the gesture is genuine, getting Christmas cards mailed can become just another deadline on the crowded holiday calendar. so to keep the season joyful, lee & i have agreed on some Christmas card ground rules:
- We cannot spend more than X amount of time in creating, addressing, and sending the cards.
- We cannot spend more than X amount of dollars on the cards and postage.
- We will not send a standard family portrait with a generic yuletide phrase stamped on the bottom.
(this last rule is simply to keep our own boredom at bay and force some creativity into the mix….some of my favorite cards each year fit the description in #3 perfectly.)
the thing is, i really appreciate when other people go to obvious effort to deliver a unique, creative, or handmade card. i examine the details, read every word, and return to view each again and again. but when it comes to my own family greeting, i’m well aware of my artistic limitations and my tendency toward perfectionism, so boundaries are necessary to prevent an inordinant drain of time or money.
as a result, our card creating process has looked something like this: “do we have any good pics of us from the last year?” “no, of course not. either your eyes are closed or i look crazy or we both are having a REALLY bad hair day.” after which we do a quick photo shoot in the living room or try to creatively manipulate the silly photos we do have into a holiday message. a few online clicks later, we’ve designed something we can pick up locally within the hour and mail that day. and this has worked fairly well for everyone, i think.
the regulations above apply to our own cards, to keep sanity in the sending. if you want tips on what makes getting cards fun, check out the basic guidelines my friend laura has shared on what makes a quality holiday card. laura knows her cards. she designs fabulous screen printed any occassion cards, and risks her personal sanity each year to create exquisite handmade Christmas cards for the enjoyment of her friends and family.
this year i was away from home from the week before thanksgiving to the second week in december, and realized a bit too late that our Christmas cards would need to be prepared before my return if there was any hope of them arriving at their destinations in time. my only option was to fly solo with the design and use one of the few photos stored on the tiny netbook i had with me on the trip (sorry cooper, you didn’t make the cut this year). the result is below, so if you didn’t receive a card in the mail, consider yourself officially Christmas carded! MERRY CHRISTMAS!