I have had a love/hate relationship with Holiday cards over the years.
Note: I call them "Holiday" cards because I often send them to people of different faiths, who don't all celebrate Christmas. So, don't get your undies in a wad over me calling them "Holiday" cards. That is not the point of this post, anyway.
What, you may legitimately ask, is the point of this post?
The point of this post is to talk about an aspect of Holiday card giving and receiving that I have reflected upon a great deal throughout my life.
A person who sends Holiday cards usually has a list, which is often composed of people who send cards in return. Great attention is paid to who does and who does not reciprocate in any given year. If someone does not reciprocate, he/she frequently gets axed from the Holiday card list the following year. Tit-for-tat, Christmas style.
Of course, I realize that not everybody does this. Some people don't keep a Holiday card "score." But, many people do. And here are my thoughts about that.
First of all, I don't think that anybody should feel pressured to send Holiday cards, at all. You should only do it if your heart is in it, if you enjoy it. Some people simply don't have the desire to send out Holiday cards. And that's just fine.
Some people also don't have the time to send out these cards. Hey, if you have to choose between reading a bedtime story to your child or attending to your boxes of Hallmark products, I don't blame you for choosing the former. People's lives are incredibly hectic these days. If you want to focus your Holiday time and energy on your immediate family -- making it special for them, and only them -- more power to you.
Financial constraints can be another reason why some people don't participate in the Holiday card tradition. It is an expense that may not be worthwhile for a particular individual or family. Again, perhaps your limited funds could be better spent on that special someone in your life or on your children or on your parents -- instead of on stacks of paper products and postage.
There are also people -- many people, I believe -- who find themselves in less-than-ideal states of health around the Holidays. Individuals may find themselves trying to cope -- come December -- with physical illness, emotional exhaustion, depression, horrible sadness, loneliness, feelings of being overwhelmed, spiritual dryness. The arrival of the Holiday season leaves many people at the very end of their ability to deal with life.
So, before you do your Holiday card score-keeping, it might be wise to consider these things. That person you are about to axe from your list might just be the person who could use that Holiday greeting most of all. You really don't know -- when all is said and done -- why somebody didn't send you a card this year or last year or any other year. The reasons could be complex. The reasons could be hidden from view. The reasons could be private. The reasons could be painful. And the reasons could be exactly why you need to keep that person on your list this year. You never know -- it could be the single most important action you perform this December. Holiday cards and Holiday gifts are just that -- gifts. They are things to be GIVEN -- without consideration to what is given in return.
And that person who has never sent anybody a Holiday card, EVER? Well, consider sending that person a card, too. You just might make someone very happy. ;-)