Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Holiday Cards show you care….or not

The first news column regarding holiday letters and cards appeared in the local paper this morning, right on time! As I sit with my old address book held together with a rubber band, a baggie full of ripped off return address labels from previous cards, and scraps of paper with names to remember from last year, I wonder yet again why we continue the tradition of sending cards when electronic media has made communications via the postal service obsolete at best. I suppose we send cards for the same reason I still put a slice of lemon in the water glasses on a formal table setting, because it has always been done before for as long as I can recall. But what do cards say about us?

Personally, I like the long family newsletters. Ever since my boys were young, I have written a long and funny Krew Year in Review insert, but this year, that tradition comes to an end (for now). As a creative person, I take great care in selecting just the right card image, if not making all of my own by hand (which I gave up a few years ago too….). Making cards became too commercial with all the scrapbooking stuff out there, the challenge was gone, so I quit.  So now, the commercially produced image has to meet some standards of design and composition and quality. So too must the inside greeting be “holiday neutral” I supposed, however I have resorted to buying different boxes for different sets of people so as not to offend. My personal studio cards to fellow arts district venues will not be so neutral however, what fun would there be in that? Snarky has an image to maintain regardless of whether it is true, deserved, and valid or none of the above. (The answer is none of the above btw)

Here are a few questions regarding cards…. If you use a preprinted name on the inside, and a printed address label on the outside, do you even know you sent me a card?  Yes, your children are adorable on the beach from the summer vacation shot, but how does that say “Merry Christmas”?  I can’t stand it that I have to choose a language on the ATM let alone get a card in Spanish. On a side note, Navidad, Felize is still absent. (Old story from my teaching days and still funny as heck.) If you include photos, please send one of you in addition to the kiddies, I want to see how much YOU have aged too! Frankly, your summer vacation photo on the beach would add to my future painting stash quite nicely.  Is it too much to ask for a return label to be on the envelope? If you moved or never really made it into the 1989 address book pile, I need to know where to send my card back to you. 

Cards reflect our times as well. Just yesterday, we got one from the company that is going to replace an appliance in our house. They have not even done the job yet and we are part of the company mailing list, with kudos for actually using a pen and signing the company name inside. Small town family owned businesses are the best!  I guess E-cards are nice, but I won’t open any of them for fear of viruses getting into my computer. My older cards used to contain a spoonful of glitter which certainly did not win me any friends, especially those who opened them over their keyboards. Who does that? (The over the keyboard part, not the glitter part).  Sometimes I get a card in the mail with my own artwork on the front and I did not even know it was being used, which I guess is flattering.  I look at the stamps too. Each year would require my getting the Christmas issue stamp for use on Christmas cards only, bills and such got the regular stamps (how OCD)  and the return label had to color coordinate with the stamp and the color of the envelope (when red was still an option). The handwritten message inside had to be in a contrasting ink as well so as to set apart from the pre-printed words because I wanted the recipient to know that I took the time to do that. Most probably didn’t care because after the glitter drop, all else was pretty much ignored in favor of getting something to pick up the mess.
Below is a “song” I included in a newsletter from the mid 1990’s sung to the tune of Jingle Bells…..enjoy (and Merry Christmas). Consider this your official Blog Card!!
Judi’s Tune (sung to Jingle Bells)

Dashing through the stores,
My arms around the kids,
I haven’t got a clue,
What day this really is….

What fun we soon will have,
Wrapping all I bought,
Lying through my teeth that night,
That the budget wasn’t shot….

Oh….traffic jams, ice and snow,
The holidays are here.
Having such a great old time,
Spreading that good cheer.

Oh….sending gifts, writing cards
Forgot someone I fear,
That’s okay, they will never know
So have a great New Year!

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