The “Old School” Christmas Card Challenge

Christmas cards have changed a lot in my lifetime.  At some point, the traditional Christmas card became more rare than the “family photo” holiday card.  For a person who spent some lonely years in her twenties, then struggled with infertility in her thirties, the family photo Christmas card was a dream for much longer than it was an option.

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But three years ago my dream came true.  I finally had a family.  I could finally order picture Christmas cards.  And I did.  I ordered tons of them and sent them out until I ran out of stamps.  Then I bought more stamps and ordered more cards!  I think one year I ordered several different designs.  My heart is so grateful to be in a place that allows me to send those cards. Having a son that looks like a baby model is an added bonus ;).  This past week I think I got mail from every company that produces and sells these cards.  I saw several designs I love and they even have ornament cards!  Ornament cards . . .I love that idea!  The excitement is still in me . . . I have a family and an adorable child that I am extremely grateful for and I want the whole world to know it!  However, even though I enjoy sending those cards, this year our family is going “old school”. We are going to send traditional Christmas cards.  Before I explain why, let me put my disclaimer here.  I love getting Christmas cards.  I love getting traditional ones, family photo ones, cute baby ones and the creative funny ones where the only person in the picture is Matt’s 40-year-old cousin dressed like an elf sitting on a shelf.  I am not saying “no one should send photo Christmas cards” (please don’t cross me off your list)!  I am just challenging myself to go “old school” and these are the reasons why:

Reason #: I recently read an article and one statement in it really stuck with me.  Annie, from Catholic Wife, Catholic Life wrote a post about really trying to become a saint.  In that article she wrote, “Stop thinking of yourself and start thinking of HIm“.  I had an “aha” moment when I read that statement.  Now, I am sure that my friends and family LOVE getting pictures of our son and my husband and I.  They probably stare at it every day and show it to all their houseguests. They probably discuss my creativity at the dinner table.  Over dessert I am sure they comment on how handsome my husband is and how we have an absolutely perfect son.  Really, I mean, let’s be honest. Matt and I have the greatest child the Lord has ever created.  O wait . . . that’s probably not what happens.  The truth is, I am going to look at a that card more than anyone.  I’ll look it at when I design it (and it will take me hours).  I’ll look at it when they come in the mail.  I’ll look at it when I address the envelopes . . .etc.  You get the picture.  But, if I am going to stop thinking of me and start thinking of Him, I should be looking at cards that picture Our Lord, the Holy Family, Our Blessed Mother and her child, the Three Wise Men . . ..  As I write out the envelopes, my mind can envision the Lord and ALL his gifts (including my wonderful husband and adorable son).

Reason #2: Cards cost money.  And the cards I like cost more than the average card.  Snapfish and Shutterfly get business from me all year.  They are not going under if I forgo the photo card this year. On top of that, the Sacred Heart Monastery sent me free Christmas cards.  The Priests of the Sacred Heart ask for a donation and offer to pray a special Novena of Masses beginning on Christmas Day for the recipients.  Why don’t I give the money I would have given to a company and give it to their mission?  Not only am I giving money towards some noble work, I am also giving my family and friends the gift of someone praying for them. Mary’s Miraculous Medal Family offers three free Christmas cards and sells additional ones, and the recipients get a Mass said for them every day for a year.  If you like this idea, but feel a different cause needs your support – check out cardsthatgive.org – you may find an organization that you are already passionate about!

Reason #3:  Saint Therese’ stated “Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.”  Not sending Christmas cards with my family’s or my son’t picture on it is an extremely small sacrifice.  But, it still is a sacrifice.  I haven’t been able to throw out those catalogs I received in the mail from tiny prints and the like.  It’s truly a small sacrifice.  But filling out an old fashioned card, one that isn’t already signed for me, is also an opportunity.  It’s an opportunity to write more than our names.  It’s an opportunity to write an extra note to my aunt who might be lonely.  It’s an opportunity to thank my friend who came out to celebrate my 40th birthday with me (no, I still have not sent out thank you cards; please don’t judge me)! How much have we lost as a result of not handwriting letters to our loved ones anymore?  How much do we enjoy when we get a letter written by a friend or family member?  Such a beautiful gift – the gift of someone thinking of you and writing some “kindly words”. Sure, writing out those cards will take longer.  But that gift of time is a small sacrifice that may bring someone a smile and brighten his or her day. That time is probably only taking away twenty more minutes of me staring at Facebook.  That’s a sacrifice my spiritual self needs to make.

If you would like to join me in this challenge – let me know!  If you would like to alter the challenge and maybe send only some photo cards, and send the traditional ones to certain people you feel need that extra note inside, that sounds awesome too!  I would love to hear what you think! Also, if I was on your Christmas card list, please don’t cross me off of it!  Whatever you choose to do – enjoy doing it!

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