“Just Making Sure” . . . Why Christmas Cards Matter

“Just Making Sure” . . . Why Christmas Cards Matter

 

There was a greeting card some years ago, which showed Winnie the Pooh and Piglet walking together holding hands.

“I just wanted to be sure of you.”

With the holidays right around the corner, for some, like me, it means creating the Annual Letter.

Many love to get them; others refuse to read one because it seems “mass-produced”.  My niece, Sharon  is unbelievably creative.  She is the queen of finding unusual themes or a new way to tell the current year’s sequel to their story with a twist.  She never fails to impress me and I can’t wait to see what she puts together each year from Washington.

 

Photo Credit: www.marthastewart.com

Then there’s my nephew, Steve, who seems naturally reserved when we are together, yet he volunteers to take on the annual letter-writing role. This probably is a relief to his wife who is the decorator, baker, and entertainer extraordinaire of the season.  When his letter arrives, it is tender, loving, thoughtful and picturesque.  The smells, sounds and cozy feelings it evokes puts you right in Canada with them, preparing for the season.

 

I have another niece, Lecia, who is a total comedienne.  Tongue in cheek, she recounts the year filled with the school and sports antics of their girls.  We chuckle as we walk through the highlights of their precious life, even though Ohio is far, far away and they are growing up out of sight.  They make sure to include a picture of the crew, so we see how they have grown.

 

For me, the holidays barrel up to the door long before I am quite ready.  I work two jobs and take the second as it presents itself, which hardly ever seems to be the opportune time.  Subsequently, my heart is thinking about what I will and won’t include long before I actually begin to write.

Photo Credit: www.marthastewart.com

 

First, I save last year’s cards and letters and look them over.  I re-read and think about the year for these friends and family.  Some envelopes were returned because of a death.  Others have lost a precious family member or pet during the year.  Some have had a birth.  Some have relocated and I won’t know where to send our greeting unless we hear from them first.

 

What to write?  Do I include every sad and miserable thing we dealt with during the year?  No.  Do I include mistakes, poor judgment, reasons for lost sleep?  Not usually.  I try to find the good, the uplifting, the positive and the overcoming moments.  I do try to include the present state of our health, jobs, and immediate family.  I give a snippet of our activities and what our lives looked like this year.  Once printed, I hand-write something very brief but personal to the recipient.

 

Is the annual letter a chore?  Only a little bit.  Is it expensive?  Heck of a lot more so than it used to be.  Is it worth it?  Oh, yes, yes, yes!  The email blasts that some now do are fine and certainly more affordable.  I still love the idea of my loved ones going to the mail box and getting a colorful card and our letter and photos after tearing open a real envelope.

Photo Credit: www.marthastewart.com

 

To me, it is exactly like reaching out to take their hand, just like Pooh.  Then, as we walk together down the road of 2012, holding hands tightly, I am saying  “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

So, where do YOU stand on the issue of the Annual Letter?

Perhaps you don’t send cards at all.  If not, do you still like to receive them?

How do YOU “make sure” of those you love who are too far away to hug?

 

Anne

About Anne

The youngest of 8, I was born in a tiny town in the Keeweenaw Peninsula of Upper Michigan in the late 40’s. My minister parents died 6 months apart around the time of my 5th birthday. My older siblings raised us in the family home until all were graduated except me. Gradually only the boys remained, so at the age of 10 I moved to other homes. My childhood was rich with experiences that sparked my young imagination. When I finally read the Anne of Green Gables series, I totally identified with Anne. I have just celebrated my 46th anniversary with my dear husband, Lou. Our daughter, April, 4 grandchildren and one great granddaughter bring our family a lot of joy and reasons to be thankful. I have worked at O’Connor Mortuary since 1996 where I handle the accounting. The Mortuary has become extended family and it is a source of satisfaction as a job I thoroughly enjoy. We attend the Village Church and that is another wonderful extended family, one who not only worships and learns together, but loves and prays for one another at the drop of a hat. We live in a retirement community and enjoy taking our two dogs, a Bernese Mountain Dog and little Cocker Spaniel, to Dana Point Harbor for Sunday jaunts. I absolutely love participating in the Mortuary Blog. I have found my voice! Thanks for following me.
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  • Anne,

    To create or not to create, it is the age old holiday question when it comes to family letters isn’t it. I’m neither here nor there when it comes to the topic. If you do one great if you do not that is OK to. The trick to creating them is straddling that line of giving information with out being conceited or boastful. I have received some that sound like the kids in the family are part of the second coming… In this day in age with social media, your Facebook page basically is your daily holiday letter but it is always nice in my book to walk to the mail box and get that card! Lets hope that tradition never leaves us.

    Chuck

    • Anne

      Chuck
      I would imagine that if the holiday letter came from your house, Loretta would be the one to do it, with your busy schedule.
      The younger generation definitely connect with their friends waaaayyyy more through the social media, so there is nothing left unsaid.
      In our case we have family across the country and in Canada and lingering friendships in several former locations. It is the time to catch up for our family.
      So, one of these years I need to send you to your mailbox even though I see you every day. Maybe I will just do that.
      Hugs
      Anne

  • Joel Anderson

    Anne,
    I enjoyed reading your blog. Thanks for sharing with me.

    Joel

    • Anne

      Joel
      Thank you so much for reading. If you ever have time, I have many others in previous months. Give your mama, wife and kidlets a hug from Anne.
      Merry Christmas!
      Love
      Anne

  • Carrie Bayer

    Anne, what a wonderful reminder of how much we enjoy others’ annual letters- I love them! I look forward to reading about the events of the year & how friends & family are doing. I especially love the one my brother-in-law writes. Thank you for the reminder! XOXOX Carrie

    • Anne

      Carrie
      Great! One more for the letters. You have family away from you, too. Those cards and letters from afar are a treasure. There are less than in the past that come, but every one is savored.
      Thanks for reading and posting in this week so filled with helping and caring for so very many families. I know they are blessed to have you helping them, but I didn’t think you would even have a second to read my blog.
      Love you
      Anne

  • Marianne Piotrowski

    I enjoy sending Christmas cards each year it puts me in the mood for the season. I enjoy receiving them even more. Usually everyone just writes a line or two letting you know everything is fine and hope the same with you. There may be one or two that sends a letter letting you know what has happenned since the last Christmas. These are great to receive. I never send a letter because truly nothing really important happens in my life. Merry Christmas everyone!

    • Anne

      Marianne
      Welcome to my blog! I appreciated your comments. I have another plus for the real snail mail Christmas Card and letter. You are like my friend. She says the same thing: Nothing ever happens, so I don’t write.
      Probably not so much a true statement as not being one to write about yourself. Like Chuck intimated above, you don’t want to be tooting your own horn and figure your established routines don’t change as much as some so it is not flamboyant enough to write about. Probably, however you decide to communicate is appreciated by those who love you and just “want to be sure of you!”
      Hugs and Merry Christmas back!
      Anne

  • Anne,
    I love this blog. It makes me more excited to send out Christmas cards this year than I have been in years past. They tend to overwhelm me I think partially because they always overwhelmed my mom. We have boxes still sitting in the garage from Christmas’ past of cards unsent. Pretty sad, the sentiment was there but it’s a lot of work.
    This year I’ve decided to just send out about 20 cards to close friends & family. I picked out a box and brought it home the other day only to open it and realize it said “Season’s Greetings” instead of “Merry Christmas” – when I went back to exchange them I was even sadder to see that none of the cards even said Merry Christmas inside – everyone is too afraid of it. – But I’m not!

    I’m excited to personalize these & write my little notes to my loved ones. Thank you for painting this annual duty in tones of joy & excitement rather than burden & difficulty.

    Merry Christmas!

  • Anne Collins

    Molly,
    The pictures you select as our blog editor do so much to enhance our thoughts. My hat is off to you for the artistry you add to what I write.

    When you send those 20 cards this year to your special loved ones, you are starting something that will either grab your giving heart or, like your mom, you will decide it was too much.

    I hope it is the former. Regardless, those loved ones will feel wonderful when they open their card and read your sentiments. When you are older like me, if you are still doing it, it will mean a great deal as you give out in this way.

    Mine need to say Merry Christmas, also. Sometimes I get the card for the art, since I like mice and certain other precious scenes. I do for sure say Merry Christmas in the letter…and also in the stores, by the way. When someone says Happy Holidays to me, I return with Merry Christmas. It is who I am and I just spent money there.

    Merry Christmas!

    • I applaud that Anne and I sincerely hope that I am still sending out letters when I am older. There is something about a physical card & a hand written note that just says “I love you” more than an email, no matter how thoughtful.

      Thank you again for the inspiration, I’m going home a bit early today to get my cards started & presents wrapped – I just can’t wait! Hoping you have an evening of the same very soon.

      Molly

      • Anne

        Presents wrapped???!!??? Wow, Molly, good for you. I am so not there yet.
        Hugs.
        Anne

  • Lynda

    Anne,
    I love annual Christmas letters. Even tho I am in contact with you throughout the year, I still look forward to getting your letter and hearing about all the cozy details I never heard about or have forgotten.

    These letters catch you up on people you care about. It’s like a diary or journal from someone’s life. I can only wish I received my brother Steve’s annual letter – sounds nice!

    Love, Lynda

    • Anne

      Lynda!!
      What a treasure to get a comment from you. One more vote for the Christmas letter! I will have to forward Steve’s to you. He probably thinks you know it all and I will bet you don’t. Even living across town does not mean you were privy to the little details one thinks to put in their letter.

      And even though we talk often (not as often as we should or I would like), I will bet there is some detail in the letter that you would not know just from our phone visits.

      By the way, keep Lou in your prayers. He has pneumonia.

      Love you
      Anne

  • Lori

    Anne,

    I didn’t realize how much I miss receiving annual holiday letters until I read your post. The friends who used to send them no longer do. As lives become busier, some traditions go by the wayside. I love the story you tell of the different members of your family and how their personalities shape their annual letters.

    Good for you for continuing this tradition!

    Love you,
    Lori

    • Anne

      Lori
      It is a different world out there with all the gadgets. It takes real perseverance and a definite reason within to keep doing something like that.

      I hope I don’t give up on it.
      Love
      Anne

      • Lori

        You won’t because you are passionate about it!! 🙂

        • Anne

          Lori
          Yes, but I usually start it on Thanksgiving weekend and I haven’t!! Panic mode. Well, with Lou sick with pneumonia and work, my attention is taken.
          I will though.

  • Shayna Mallik

    Anne,
    I loved this blog. I love when Christmas Cards come in the mail and you get to see the people you love, weather it is family or friends. This year was the first year I did my own Christmas Cards, from myself and Brad. Usually my mom handles all the Holiday Cards, but this year myself and Brad took a nice photo and made our first Christmas Card. I was so excited while making these and preparing them. It is now going to be a tradition of mine and Brads to do each year 🙂
    Thank You for sharing such a special part of the holidays.

    Shayna

    • Anne Collins

      Shayna
      Thanks for reading and voting. The snail mail card and letter is winning!

      How cool that you took the picture and send out the cards this year for you and Brad’s first Christmas. The tradition is starting right from the beginning.

      Pictures add so much. We may think they are not necessary, but when we go to Lou’s sister’s in Nebraska, she has our old pictures under glass in her breakfast bar area and that is how she “keeps us close”. She looks at them when she drinks her first cup of coffee.

      Merry Christmas, Shayna. Hope it is wonderful for the whole month!
      Hugs
      Anne

  • Patricia Kolstad

    Anne:
    Personal touches always mean so much more – it means we care enough to “send the very best” of ourselves. I love sending hand written notes. In this time of electronics – texting and emails have taken over our lives. We don’t pick up a phone, we don’t send a letter, we don’t, often times, care enough.

    I don’t send out an annual letter, but I do write personal notes inside my Christmas Cards, reminding my friends and family how much they mean to me.

    Thank you for this sweet blog.

    Pat

    • Anne Collins

      Pat
      First of all, a handwritten note from you is neat because your handwriting is so lovely. But, it doesn’t really matter if we don’t have the greatest handwriting, because it is the fact we cared enough, as you said.

      Again the personal card wins, hands down. I am happy to see so many agree. Those who thought it didn’t matter may be encouraged to do it and totally blow their loved ones away, since it would be a first or a surprise, at least.

      A very Merry Christmas to you as you enjoy your family near and the ones you just found again, far.
      Thanks for your comments,
      Hugs
      Anne

  • GREG FORSTER

    Anne,

    I applaud you for your letters revealing an annual window on your life. But..I do not do it. I am the opposite, pulling back on the cards that I send out became a reality for me many years ago…and they would only include a brief note if that. So it is now my fault and my wife’s, as we certainly could receive more if we also expended the time and effort to reciprocate. Why? I don’t know, maybe it is because one feels that if they don’t see someone physically within a year they think “What does it matter?, we are no longer connected.” We move from chapter to chapter in our lives, and for me, sometimes it is just easier just to close a chapter and move on.
    Am I right? Am I wrong? My parents didn’t do what I am doing, although their physical encounters with friends over time became non-existent (I’m talking decades, here). Year after year they would send and receive cards from some of them…and never even pick up the phone to talk to them.
    What is the value?
    You have indeed found value… and I am truly happy for you in that.
    Year after year you send warm “hugs” through your words of sincerity…and that is an art.
    An art that has value…an art that is anticipated and appreciated…an art that is, yes, loved by your “others”.
    An art synonomous with the idea of a gift.

    • Anne

      Greg
      Ok, so you are on the other side of this coin. I can see your points. I do not pick up the phone with each of these people on my annual list during the year. Some yes, others, no. And yet, I feel such a strong desire to connect with them that one moment in time, because I do still treasure them and the role they played in our lives at one time. Should we ever live in the same area again, we would likely reconnect.

      Then of course, the spread out family, we do connect with during the year, but it still is a catching up that occurs in the letters that ties it all together in a neat package in my mind.

      It IS like a gift. That covers it.
      Thanks for checking in. Always look forward to your insights.
      Merry Christmas!

  • Ms. Fran Cantor

    Hi Anne,

    I have really enjoyed reading the Mortuary Blog. There are some very response answers.
    Even the question are creative which draws my attention. Thanks for letting me join.

    I enjoy receiving Xmas card and sending them. When I get started on my cards end up being a
    little bit like a letter.” My Children Comment , Mom are you writing a book.” It seems I always I
    Have a lot to say and can’t stop. Especially to the person I’m writing to. Most of my Friends are
    doing e-mail Cards and some are very adorable. Which you can’t find in some cards. So it depends
    on the responds I get. And Love it. I would like to Wish everyone at the O’ Connor’s a Blessed
    Warmhearted “MERRY CHRISTMAS” For all the Caring service you all do.!!! May God Grant you all e
    Inner Peace. Please give my regard to MOLLY
    Frannie Cantor>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.

    • Anne

      Hi Fran
      Thank you so much for weighing in on this issue. I have a feeling the recipients of those “books” you are writing are so thankful to know you care and are “Making sure” of them. Go for it as long as you can.

      May I say Merry Christmas from everyone here at O’Connor’s and especially the blog team. You mean the world to us. Our struggles with writing from our hearts would be pretty worthless without people like you to follow us and keep us on track.
      Big hugs,
      Anne

  • kari Leslie

    Annie,
    I LOVE to get Christmas Cards!! I have kept up a long time family tradition of taping all the cards to inside of my front door. My Nana did it, my Mom does it, and now I do too. My kids love to read them and see who sent what this year. I buy a box of about 20 Christmas cards each year and send it to a chosen few. I’m so funny about cards, and photos that I keep them for years to come. Some of the best times are when the kids and I are decorating and we stumble upon all the old cards and flip through.

    Love you!!
    kari

    • Anne

      Kari
      Somehow I knew you would be “For” the Christmas Cards. There is something special and meaningful about finding an area in the house and making them part of the decor. I have always taped them up somewhere too, often around a doorway or archway.

      Merry Christmas, love you, too.
      Anne

  • Hi Anne –

    I love Christmas cards! I love the cards that give you the last 365 days of someones life. Nothing funny than sharing your life in a Christmas card, sometimes you get TMI! This will be our first year sending out a card, once you have a child it changes the game. I hope you enjoy the photo and the very few words. Merry Christmas!

    • Anne

      Neil
      I will enjoy getting my own new photo of our boy. You need few words with me anyway. I am still the sly fox.

      But, you are right. Our children change everything. Then we have to consider what our traditions shall be.

      Merry Christmas, Neil. Thanks again for the wonderful holiday party we all enjoyed.
      Anne

  • victoria b

    Hello Anne!! I found your blog because I have searched for years to find that exact card that you have posted above of Pooh and Piglet “just making sure of you” I mean I have searched for YEARS to find this but at least I found the cover of it on your blog and will now have a copy for myself – sooooo happy about this!!!! Is there any chance you still have that orginal greeting card that might show on the back the company that made it or anything that identifies the card so I might be able to track down others that were in that same Pooh series? I would appreciate it sooo much if you might have it and post any details if you do!!!!!!! take good care!! my good friends Carol and Dan live in Dana Point too – it’s a beautiful place!!!!!!

    • Hello Victoria!
      So glad you were able to find this sweet photo you’ve been looking for. I’m the blog editor and I found the photo you’re talking about. Unfortunately, it was just an image I came across online and not something we photographed. So, no, we don’t have any more info to offer you about it, I’m so sorry! I hope this image does somehow help you in your search, best of luck!

      Molly