Top Five Arguments Against Christmas Cards and Why I Send Them Anyway

Spreading holiday cheer is worth the time and expense.

Spreading holiday cheer is worth the time and expense.

“Christmas cards are a thing of the past.”

“Don’t you care about trees? Send an e-mail.”

“Facebook is the new delivery system. Post your message there. That’s where all your friends and family are anyway.”

“Who has the time? Don’t even bother. They just get thrown away.”

“Postage is expensive. Don’t forget about your carbon footprint.”

I know all the arguments. Hear them, read them more and more every year. According to Eric Garcia at MarketWatch the number of paper cards delivered in 2014 dropped by 30%. But you know what? I like Christmas cards. I like sending them out and I especially like getting them. My name and address handwritten on an envelope is especially cool because (duh, dun, duh) it hardly ever happens! Makes me feel like a kid, oooh something’s in the mail for me and it’s not a freaking adult-world bill. They’re pretty, they’re filled with joy and family pictures and messages of love. They make me feel good.

The Christmas Card Wreath. Now isn't that festive?

The Christmas Card Wreath. Now isn’t that festive?

Sure I care about trees. It’s why I hug them regularly, donate money to grow new ones, and take good care of the 400+ year old ones in my yard. My bookshelf honors their sacrifice. Why not send an e-mail instead? Really? Does e-mail make me think of holiday cheer and settling down with a nice, hot cocoa in front of a roaring fire? NO. It makes me think of work, work, work, work, work. I get thousands of e-mails a day, and delete 70% of them. Don’t make me sift through my e-mail to find a link to to your animated Jesus gif. Yes, that’s a thing.

Ah yes, much better than reading e-mail.

Ah yes, much better than reading e-mail.

What about Facebook? I do put holiday messages from both my family and my company out on Facebook and Twitter. My friends and customers hang out in those places. I hang out in those places. But just like my enjoying a good ebook does not preclude me from enjoying the weight of a solid hardcover in my hands, the sound of a page turning, the smell of fresh print . . . I digress. Anyway, not all of my friends and family use social media. Some are intentionally modern luddites. Yeah, that’s a thing too.

It does take time to find good cards to send, purchase said cards, look up mailing addresses, stuff and address envelopes, pay for and affix stamps, journey to the post office, open the mail slot . . . when you could be doing something else, anything else. Isn’t that the point though? I have chosen to take time away from my daily routine to do this small gesture because I care to do it. I also bribe my children to help. My twelve year old has very nice printing and my ten year old can stick a stamp like nobody’s business. I can get an easy hour of child labor for a couple candy canes.

Once I release those cards into the world if the recipients choose to throw them away, well that’s completely up to them. Free will I say! We like to save ours– especially the pictures– the others will most likely forge a new life cut up and put into some crafty kid’s project. Yes, repurposing Christmas cards is also, a thing.

The price of a stamp has risen! In the grand scheme of spending, a stamp is still pretty cheap. In a society that has no problem handing over $4.65 for a Venti Teavana ® Oprah Chai Tea Latte at Starbucks— Yes. Thing– spending 49 cents on a stamp is a matter of perspective. Got 100 cards to send? Well there’s some real money. That’s when you weigh your priorities. If food on the table, medical care, and heat in the winter top your list, then of course, Christmas cards and Chai Tea Lattes shouldn’t even be on your list. But if you’ve got an entertainment budget that includes The Baby Mop . . . unfortunately, a thing . . . you can splurge on a few stamps.

The dreaded carbon footprint could be holding you back, but you could do what I do: stop at the post office on the way to or from work. You’re out and about anyway. By the way, if your carbon footprint is the reason you don’t go out and about then why on Mother Earth are you using electricity to read this blog? Better yet, get your stamps from your mail person who comes to your house most days and once stamped, put the cards in your mailbox with the flag up. The post office is already doing its part to promote good stewardship.

So, no, I don’t think Christmas cards are a thing of the past. I still send them and receive them with happiness in my heart and I will continue to do so right up until the zombie apocalypse. Not a real thing.

Photos by Karin Blaski © 2015

What’s to Like About Rockford: The Kindness of Strangers

My monthly series on Rockford, originally created to help persuade my husband that Rockford isn’t so bad after all, has focused on places to go, things to do. When it comes to the “do and see” in Rockford, I haven’t even scratched the surface.

But this particular post is long overdue. It’s the one where I tell you about Rockford’s people. And not the ones who are close to my heart, they travel with me wherever I go, whether I’m in Rockford or not. No, it’s about the people who’s names I don’t know, who’ve reached out to me during the thirteen years I’ve lived here.

Rescue Angel #1. In the spring of 2012, I locked my keys in my van while buying gardening supplies at a nursery. I was due to pick up my kids from school in 10 MINUTES! Panic doesn’t even begin to describe my state of mind. A woman, a stranger, also shopping at the nursery, observed my distress in the parking lot. She offered to drive me to pick up my kids from school and bring me back to my van. She offered for me to use her cell phone to call my husband so he could meet me with the spare keys. I took her up on her offer. We only exchanged first names. She wouldn’t take any gas money from me, only my heartfelt thank you.

Rescue Angel #2. In the summer of 2001, I locked my keys in my van at the post office (oh shush, there’s an eleven year interval, it’s not like I do it ALL THE TIME). The lady at the post office let me borrow her car, drive to my husband’s work to get his house key, so I could drive home and get the spare van key, then drive back to the post office. Wow, right? I didn’t ask if I could. She offered. She would’t take any gas money either. Although I wrote her a thank you card later ’cause I knew where this lady worked. PS, she doesn’t work there any more, so I’ve kept her privacy.

But wait, there’s more. The woman who got out of her car in high heels and helped push my car up the icy hill. The man who cheered my daughter when she was inconsolable after falling in the parking lot. The man who held my hand when we both pulled over on the side of the road after I ran over the raccoon and I cried. Whoever keeps paying for my coffee in the McDonald’s drive through (I just go ahead and pay for the next car’s). This post could go on and on.

The point is . . .

I expect this behavior from my friends, my family, the neighbors who know me, the people at my church, my colleagues at work, current and former students . . . not from strangers who’ve never seen me before and will never see me again. Aren’t they supposed to be, oblivious? Jaded by high unemployment, runaway property taxes and miserable weather? But, no. Spirit is something the statisticians don’t measure.

So thank you Rockfordians, for your kindness over the years. I think I’ll stay a while longer.

Photo © Irina Brinza

What’s to Like About Rockford: Thanks a Lot Forbes Magazine


Number Three? America’s Most Miserable Cities? Ranked third After Flint, Michigan (number one), and Detroit, Michigan (number two)? Are you freaking kidding me? Rockford? How do you even know where Rockford is on the map? Honestly.

Honestly. We’ve got our troubles. But number three?

Now I know numbers. In another life I cranked out numbers for a living. Acres of spreadsheets. Formulas, statistics, the works. So let’s see what it takes to become miserable according to Forbes this year…

The misery index is based on 9 factors. First, the average unemployment rate between 2010 and 2012, which doesn’t take into account that the average unemployment rate for Rockford, although high, has decreased during that time frame. Don’t believe me? This from the Bureau of Labor Statistics: Dec. 2010 12.9. Dec. 2011 12.5Dec. 2012 11.2

Second, median commute times to work for 2011. Ummm. Yeah. Because, it takes like 20 minutes to get anywhere in Rockford. Ask anyone. “So. Where are you?” “Target” “Ok. See you in 20 minutes”. “I’m leaving the post office now, be home in 20 minutes.” So this one is pretty much bogus. You want to see commute times? Drive from one side of LA to the other.

Third, violent crimes per capita from the FBI’s 2011 Uniform Crime Report. Yeah, for Rockford, this one is ouch (BTW mostly theft crimes). Yet, although high, there are twelve metropolitan statistical areas higher for this time period, including such places as Anchorage, AK, Memphis, TN, and Springfield, IL. Download the report yourself from here.

Then they included the change in median home prices between 2009 and 2012; foreclosure rates in 2012, and property tax rates. They also factored in income tax rates and the weather. Maybe I’m in denial, but I’ve seen more foreclosures in the beach community where I vacation than here in Rockford, and honestly, the weather is not. bad. It’s not Fargo, ND. Shoot, it’s not even Milwaukee.

I live here. I work here. I’m raising my kids in this community. I have friends here. My church is here. This is my home.  And I’m not miserable. And granted, I don’t represent everyone in Rockford, but in my line of work I interact with a fair number of people and most seem to be more hopeful than miserable.

It snowed again on Friday, which according to Forbes should contribute to my misery. I went sledding with my family. Perspective. Something the statistics don’t take into account.

Photo © Dekanaryas