you’ve got mail: Christmas cards and thoughtful acts

My family every year still writes and sends out Christmas cards to friends and family. The whole Shutterfly-type photo collage and a highlight reel of the past year.

Turns out, we’re few and far between for those who actually send these out anymore. It costs money, yes, and I guess there’s texting and email to stay updated, but there’s still something special about opening a mailbox to see a handwritten envelope to you, a return address from someone you maybe haven’t heard from in awhile.It’s almost cliche now to discuss the commercialism and hullbaloo of the holidays. Flash sales and flashing lights and flashy toys you don’t need, oh my!

I guess for those looking at seasonal finances, paying for postage and stamps for Christmas cards is probably cut out before buying certain wishlist items and going all-out in the decor.But beyond my family’s own tradition of Christmas cards, on my trip back to college after Thanksgiving, my mom stuck in a box of holiday greeting cards and envelopes.

Originally, I was planning on not doing much, as I do every year, just sending out a text to friends on Christmas Day & calling it good.

A little voice inside me though said, “Why not do more?” So I listened. And now I’m in the process of writing and mailing a bunch of handwritten cards to friends expressing my love and gratitude. Just because. The season of giving makes it timely, but really, you don’t realize the difference it makes telling someone in person or writing out your thoughts rather than just texting or messaging.

Giving time and extra love.

It’s extra effort obviously, but the joy I’ve gotten from the process has been astounding. I’m excited to hear about how my friends will open their mailboxes to see their name because who doesn’t love receiving mail? And especially with how few families send out Christmas letters and cards, chances are slim individuals do it either.

I’ve grown up always sending thank-you cards. Often it was tedious and I was not happy about doing it, especially around Christmas when there’s many opportunities to give thanks for gifts and support. Now I don’t even bat an eye about writing them…heck, I’d feel weird not doing it. But you don’t realize how much something so little can mean to someone.

We don’t expect others to go above and beyond to send a card or letter just to say thank-you when other modes of communication are so much faster. But with speed comes ease, and that message loses a lot of meaning and value. It’s like my thoughts on saying “I love you”: I rarely say it to others, especially family, because I don’t want it to become automatic, just a statement you make to break silence or say goodbye. I want people to know I really mean it. Not that those who do say it often don’t mean it, but those are just my own reservations.

Don’t always rely on technology.

I still am the one sending mass texts to my contact list on holidays, but for this season, I want to make sure that what I say, I mean. If I wasn’t a college student on a budget, maybe I’d include a gift in there, but if I were to receive a card from a loved one personally addressed to me, I’d be blown away.

Doing this has also reminded me just how blessed I am. Let’s be real, I grew up not having a lot of friends and always struggling to relate and connect with others. I still get really anxious about if I’m worthy enough, if I have enough people, if I’m doing enough, all on top of social anxiety so often crippling me in basic situations.

However, I still filled a post-it note with names of those I’d like to contact. I was appalled. I know so many amazing people who I call my true friends, distant or nearby, who support me and accept me as I am. That’s the greatest gift I could ever ask for.

It doesn’t have to be a card or letter. Maybe to you, giving a little extra could mean spending more quality time with others. Calling friends rather than texting them. Exchanging gifts, big or small. We tend to go above and beyond in other aspects of the holidays, but maybe we should do so in simple ways, in the ways not visible driving past your house or sitting under the Christmas tree.

What little acts of kindness could you do for those you love?

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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