Lately I’ve read several articles discussing the “pros” of online Christmas cards. Whether it is sending cards via a Facebook status update, email, or blog post, these articles talk about how much money is saved by not buying stamps or cards.
I agree, it is cheaper to send your cards online, but is it really better?
Note: If times are tough and an online Christmas greeting is all you can afford, that’s wonderful. Skip this post and go make some caramel corn.
I’ll admit, I stink at sending Christmas cards. For the first twelve years of our marriage I was the Christmas card queen. DH and I would spend hours writing up a Christmas letter and choosing the perfect card was an all day event.
Then there was the Christmas card list. We’d edit it every year, making updates for those who moved, got married (divorced 🙁 ), or passed away. It was always fun to add new friends to the list.
We had a budget. Since cards and stamps are expensive we had a Christmas card budget every year. This meant we had to limit the number of Christmas cards we could send. We would often debate about who was added to or removed from Christmas card list.
Then a few years ago I got too busy to send Christmas cards so I sent the Christmas email. DH and I congratulated ourselves on our new frugal tradition of online Christmas cards.
But what were we really celebrating?
We had the money to buy cards and stamps, but we didn’t spend it. The money we saved wasn’t spent to buy a goat for a family in Africa or pack up an extra shoebox for Operation Christmas Child. We just went on with our busy lives, enjoying the Christmas cards that arrived in our mailbox.
Today is December 14 and I haven’t sent out a single card.
But I will, and here’s why.
A Christmas card, signed, stuffed, stamped and delivered means something. In today’s society we are overly connected yet growing disconnected from real, personal relationships.
A Christmas card is personal. It’s signed in ink and maybe even handwritten. In this day and age when people propose and break up via Facebook the amount of personal interaction we have with one another is shrinking. The popularity of the digital Christmas card is just one more way to make life easier… and less personal.
A Christmas card is tangible. You can hold it in your hands, hang it up, save it, frame it, cut it up, use it for crafts, set it next to your bedstand, use it as a fire starter. Whatever it ends up being…. it is something you can touch, feel, hold.
A Christmas card might get lost in the mail, but it will never end up in a spam folder.
A Christmas card means I care about you enough to spend $0.44 plus the cost of the card to let you know I’m thinking about you this year. I didn’t just hit “reply to all” and send.
A Christmas card gives everyone on your list, not just those who have a Facebook or email account, a chance to see and/or hear from your family.
A Christmas card gets hung on the wall, fridge, window, mirror door for at least a month or longer. It gives people a chance not only to be reminded of your family but maybe even pray for your family. In the words of my 17 yo daughter…
“Can you imagine how lame life would be if everyone emailed their Christmas card? Who is going to print it out and hang it on the wall?”
This year we’ve only received one Christmas card and my kids are sad. They love opening the envelopes, reading the cards, looking at the pictures and remembering old friends, commenting on how tall so-and-so is or that someone had another baby.
By choosing not to send a Christmas card I’m taking that joy away from another family. It’s not that my family is so wonderful that people need OUR card, it’s that people need cards in general. If I jump on the digital card bandwagon that’s one more card that won’t be hanging on the fridge this year.
So even though there’s only 10 days until Christmas, I don’t have a family photo (yet) or cards picked out, I will be sending cards this year.
While it might not be the most frugal option, it’s an investment I’m happy to make.
Photo credit: Atypical Type A