30 November, 2011

It's time to send those cards again

December is almost here, the beginning of the official Christmas (or for those of you in the US – holiday) season.  It can be a tough time for those of us without children.  I’ll write more about different aspects of this, and how I get through it, later in the month. 

Now is when we start thinking about sending cards.  I’ve seen discussions from friends in the US and Canada, the inadequacy they feel when they send out their own cards, with photos of two (with the odd beloved pet thrown in) when they receive cards with photos of their friends and all their children.  The pain of opening cards and seeing yet another seemingly happy family, perhaps a new arrival in the photograph, and then have to look at those photos till after New Year.  What a sock in the face that must be.

Fortunately, here in New Zealand, the personalised photo cards are very rare.  In fact, the only ones that I ever receive are from friends in the US.  I find it a somewhat odd custom.  Perhaps we’re a bit lower key in New Zealand, but we don’t presume to think our friends want our faces looking back at them throughout the festive season.  In the spirit of the season, we send cards to our friends and family that are about them, not about us. 

I carefully choose cards that will fit the recipient.  I think I would have done that regardless of whether photo-cards were traditional here in New Zealand.  (After all, I do it with my own home-made cards for friends and family throughout the year).  And I hate to bow to a tradition if it doesn’t work for me. 

So at Christmas, my religious friends get a card with a biblical scene on it.  Children, or friends/relatives get cards with Santa, often humorous ones in New Zealand that show Santa with a suntan, lying on the beach with the reindeer, a beer in hand, and a barbecue sizzling away in the background, you know the type.  Other friends will get elegant Christmas trees, or decorations, or for my Buddhist/Muslim friends/family I will hunt out New Year cards. 

It means Christmas cards have never been a source of pain for me.  And for that, I’m very thankful. 

Perhaps I lie.  They can be a bit painful, but only when I either a) receive a card from someone I’ve forgotten to send one to, and it’s too late to get one posted before Christmas, or b) when I don’t receive one from people I really want to hear from!


  1. I'm really bad about sending Christmas cards... I guess I'm just a serious procrastinator. But, I think it has worked out for the best, since I rarely send any, I rarely receive any. It is very much the fashion here to send cards with family pics on them. Often, my friends are not on the pics, but their kids are. My brother received one not long ago from a friend... three generations: My brother's friend, his kids and daughters/sons in law with the grandkids. Ordinarily, I like the idea of seeing my friends and all the changes throughout the years, but given my current state of mind, the last thing I want is to see reminders of what is lacking in lieu of what I have. I grew up Catholic, but my husband is Muslim. For me the holidays are supposed to celebrate something bigger than ourselves,and in principle I don't like it that that greater meaning is eclipsed by a "look at us" family pic.

  2. Ack, Christmas cards. Thankfully, the spouse and I don't get many personalized photo cards, because they are not common where we come from. I try to buy generic season cards (i.e., winter landscapes), since I have quite a few of non-christian friends that I also send season greetings to. I always buy a box since I am too cheap. I admire you for taking the time to choose each card for each recipient.

  3. Christmas cards don't tend to be personalised here - but I do wonder (or depending on my mood, flinch) at how some of them are signed. When the card includes the name of every member of the family. Am I really supposed to believe that a 2 month old baby is wishing me a Happy Christmas / hoping I enjoy the break?!

  4. I don't get too many personalized cards - I'd probably say only 25% or less - but I can imagine depending on whom you know in the US, they could be higher. I tend to run in circles w/quirkier folks, a lot of whom don't have children or go in for tradition.

    In an attempt to sort of make light of the personalize cards, and also to be a bit silly and have some fun with the holiday cards - I started making my own cards, which feature my pet dressed bizarrely next to some sort of weapon. It started out because my cat Minnie had a mustache, which made her look "Evil" but now we are continuing it on with the dog. It is fun, not really related to any holiday, and everyone always loves them.

    I like making people laugh, I like to give people something a bit more personal and different, and I also like to poke a bit of fun at how serious we can take the holiday season here in the US.

  5. I found your blog through Mel's roundup... I never noticed that in NZ the photo card thing wasn't really wasn't that common(I immigrated there from the USA a few years ago), but now that you say it you have (a) saved me from myself in trying to go make one (b) made me laugh because yes it is a bit odd to focus on you and not the person you are sending cards to. Thanks for the insight... brightened my day:)