For me, one of the tell-tale signs that the holiday season has arrived is the first Christmas card my family receives in the mail around Thanksgiving.
My mom methodically places it in a decorative basket or bowl, soon to be accompanied by nearly a couple hundred others from family and friends in the coming month and a half. Shortly after, my own family (read: my mom) begins brainstorming our own family’s Christmas card - the photo options to choose from, deciding if we’re writing a letter this year, checking the recipient address list to see if there are any adjustments needed to be made, etc. It truly is an entire production, and for many, this is a familiar occurrence.
My siblings and I were tasked exclusively with the “make a million little Scotch tape rolls to pass to mom to put the cards up,” but have since been given more responsibility with helping arrange the copious number of cards.
I never had any serious grievances with the whole Christmas card exchange ordeal, minus the occasional complaint of being enlisted as an “elf,” as my mom would put it when helping assemble our own cards. It’s a largely generational phenomenon, dominated by a more analog-centric generation of our parents, where communicating via snail mail was the norm and mass mail outs were just everyday parts of growing up. It wasn’t until recently that I realized a number of folks my age either really don’t understand why our parents go through all the effort to send them year after year, or just generally speaking aren’t fans of it.
So, I put together a small list (inspired in part by the naughty-nice aesthetic of Santa himself) of the pros and cons of Christmas cards.
Objectively speaking, it’s relatively clear from this relatively subjective list that there are more cons than pros when it comes to Christmas cards. So, there you have it! Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
In theory, I agree. From a logistic, environmental, practical sense, I would be on #TeamNoPhysicalChristmasCards (digital gets a pass here). But in my gut - the gut that is full of nostalgia, warm memories, and holiday cheer - I can’t help but be in support of the great Christmas card exchange. Taking a more zoomed out perspective, I have a better understanding as to why I am the way I am. The answer: my family.
My mom keeps this photo album of nearly all Christmas cards past, documenting the first “official” Nagasaki family card with my parents’ wedding photo, through my brother Kyle’s first Christmas, etc. The tradition to also include a letter each year began relatively early on. My mom has made it a point to go to Kinko’s (RIP, now referred to as exclusively FedEx) and now places like Michaels to pick out holiday-themed decorative paper for my dad to print 250+ copies in one of four fonts we’ve rotated throughout the years.
As someone who loves looking through old family photos, going through this album every year around Christmas is a sweet tradition. And the same thing goes for Christmas card sending, too, oddly enough. I even took the liberty of volunteering myself to write the family’s Christmas letter this year. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate the sentiment and significance of documenting our year, getting to share it with friends and family, and then receiving updates and photos in exchange. And in a year like this one, the opportunity to connect with those we love and appreciate feels important as ever.
As a twenty-something, being in favor of the whole ordeal of sending Christmas cards may or may not be an unpopular opinion. There are expanding digital options, the argument that social media leaves physical cards null, etc., but there’s something about a little holiday magic that gets delivered with the whole thing. So, for you fellow snail-mailers and Christmas-card-senders, just know that I (along with your moms, aunties, etc.) 100% support you! (...I’ll also definitely cherish anything you send me, so add me to your list next year!!!!)
Wishing you and yours a Merry belated Christmas and a Happy New Year :)
The Nagasaki family 2020 Christmas card