May you enjoy all the things that are magical about the holiday season
with those you hold dear and may you have peace in your heart,
a sparkle in your eye, and a lightness in your soul.
This I wish for you – for all of us – embrace joy.
This is my greeting card this holiday season.
I had to acknowledge to myself today, three days before Christmas, that I won’t be getting Christmas cards out this year. I am not sure why I feel so guilty about this (particularly given the long list of things I could better use my guilt on), but it has been hanging in the air the past couple of weeks and I have not been able to shake it. Every day I received a new card, I thought again, “I need to do my damn Christmas cards.” Yes, I know, wrong attitude. But day after day, I just didn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t get out the address book and the stack of cards. And with every day I felt mounting guilt that I was not fulfilling my social obligation.
My typical routine, to do all my cards over the the Thanksgiving weekend, did not happen this year. I had a half dozen pressing projects and focused on those instead. Then one thing led to another, and one deadline after another bore down on me, and a few more weekends passed with no card effort on my part and an ever-growing pile of received cards. As the pile grew, so too did my guilt.
But why such guilt over a silly thing like a Christmas card? I have thought about this quite a bit. Indeed, I could have completed all my Christmas cards handily in the time I spent thinking about the guilt. Imagine, no guilt and no guilt to think about if only I could have found the time to do my Christmas cards. A little bit ironic, don’t you think?
I did muster the effort to give cards to my colleagues at work, they required no addresses or stamps, I think that made a difference. Or I just had a singular moment of something resembling holiday cheer. It is hard to know what struck me in that moment.
It does seem that Christmas cards are increasingly becoming a thing of the past. With Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn we are connected all the time. Perhaps the need to reach out during the holidays with something as seemingly archaic as U.S. mail is something relegated to the days before social media became our norm. Now we see the Christmas card stories as they unfold – the celebrations, the tragedies, the changes, the blessings – this is the society we have become. And we can spread our messages of cheer to hundreds of people with a single click. Quite an alternative to writer’s cramp, paper cuts on the tongue, and money spent on stamps. But not really all that personal, social media has a way of being somewhat anti-social on that front.
Alas, I finally recognized that not getting to my Christmas cards was never really about a lack of time, but was instead about a lack of will. And where did my will go? I am not entirely sure. A malaise did settle in here toward the end of the year when we lost both our cat Stinky and dog Cooper. It was tough to lose them both in such a short period of time, and such losses do weigh on me. But I think it is something more, something along the line of accumulated life, family, and work stressors that built to this point – a point where there are some things that I simply cannot give my care to, now matter how innocuous or easy they are. That is where I think I am at this year – #cannotcare. Or perhaps, it is more appropriately characterized as I chose not to care about Christmas cards in the bigger scheme of things this year.
Not that I don’t care about the social contract that exists in the exchanging of Christmas cards, because the guilt signals that I do. But I am letting this go – this year. I will not send a card with a collage of family photos, or write a Christmas letter, or send store-bought cards with creatures and snow folk on them…no, this year I will do nothing of the sort. Instead, I will use social media to offer the wishes I began this blog post with to all my blog readers, colleagues, friends, and family far and wide.
Embrace joy – each and every day in every way, especially this holiday season – that is the message (and, the card is not in the mail). 😉
Another day in the new forty – obla di obla da