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

The Pent Up Writer

dreamstime_xs_32164465

My college semester is in full swing. I know this because as of Valentine’s Day I’ve conducted 306 assessments (in lay person’s terms, that means I’ve been grading a lot) with no end in sight. So how’s the writer part of me get the time to, you know, write?

I’ve always had to squeeze writing into my life which already bustles with teaching, parenting, husband-time, driving, cleaning the house (okay, only once in while for this one–I’m not a cleaner, I know this about myself), and fighting off illness. Then there’s those other distractions: cats on the internet, Game of Thrones on HBO (all the characters in various stages of bat-sh@# crazy, with swords), The Walking Dead on AMC (all the characters in various stages of dead, plus bat-sh@# crazy, some also with swords).

So, I didn’t write for almost three weeks. And like an addict, I went through withdrawal. Constantly musing about my not writing. Muttering under my breath, “I need to write something”. Talking about writing and then not-writing. Reading about writing and then not-writing. Writing a blog post about not writing. Wait. That sorta counts as writing.

My angst reached critical mass last weekend. I woke up at least a dozen times Saturday night with a brand new fully formed story playing in my head that would not let me go. I kept pushing back, whining, “I’ll get to you in the morning. Please, just let me sleep!” At 3 AM I finally gave up the fighting and the sleeping. I scribbled out that story from start to finish in one five hour blazing burst. Then I went back and revised and edited another five hours.

Which is completely unlike me. My usual writing style is to rough draft a little, pick a little, rough draft some more, pick some more. The same pattern over the course of weeks, months, (yes, years for my first novel). Critiqued, revised, beta read, fine tuned adds on another four to six months. My creative burner is normally “slow and steady wins the race.” I am the tortoise who gets there eventually.

But not this week my friend. This week I was the hare.

Photograph © Silviu Matei

Secret to Share: I Write Longhand

 

 img_1654abc.JPG

 

 

There, I’ve said it. I struggle to compose on the keyboard. I cannot plot on the keyboard. I spend more time deleting than creating on the keyboard. Staring at a blank page on a computer screen = no. Staring at a lined legal notepad = YES! Call it what you will, “strange quirky writer refuses to get with the times.” Old-fashioned, and change-adverse. Like a baseball pitcher who refuses to change his underwear or else spoil his winning streak. Well, maybe not quite like that.

 

I write with a pen, on legal pads, usually in bed, and always in cursive (I know, a dying art I’ve read). It’s the way my brain has always worked. Studying for exams in school, I would rewrite my notes, heck I’d rewrite the textbook if I found the time. My brain has a connection to my hand, my hand to the pen, the pen to the paper.

 

I judge my progress not by a word count at the bottom of the screen but by how many pens run out of ink (one so far on BAD MOJO, four on CHOSEN SOUL, three on HOPELIGHT) and how many notepads I can fill (lots).

 

If it matters, I do appreciate the trees that have been felled in pursuit of my dreams of a college education and a career as a writer.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I love my Macbook. Truly I do. But my computer is all about work: creating syllabi and grading electronic assignments and checking e-mail (couple hundred per day) and oh yes, editing. Let’s not forget editing. My scrawled notes have to end up in the computer some time, so the first round of edits happens while I’m typing them in, making the second round easier. In theory anyway.

 

And lets not forget that Macbook is also a gateway to the greatest time-suck of the universe: the internet. The glowing apple beckons me to Facebook, blog links of the world, Ebay, Twitter, Goodreads, and yes, Wikipedia. I also have an IPad now, which I can use to kill a good hour throwing a diverse array of birds at snorting green pig heads.

 

Hiding my electronic devices so I can compose on paper works for me. Maybe it will work for you. Give it a try some time. All you need is a good pen . . . some lined paper . . . a quiet room. Cat curled at your feet is optional.