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TRADITION, REPETITION OR RUT?
I wrote my first Christmas letter in 2002. We had just built and moved into this house, Martin turned 5 and Karin was 3.5. Anders had turned 40 earlier in the year, I was working at Ericsson, and he had just returned to Tetra Pak after a 2-year stint at ABB. I wrote in MUCH more detail about the things that we did each month than I do now...where did I find the time and energy to gather all that information? My Christmas card now seems to have settled into a rut.

I wrote this year's Christmas letter this weekend, detailing all the things that have happened this year, the highlights for our family...what we're doing, where we've been, who's been visiting. I looked back through the calendar and through my blog (which, sadly, takes about as long to do) and listed all the important things that I thought would be of interest...

And then I thought, but are they? Does anyone care about Christmas letters anymore? Are they still a thing? If you are reading THIS, then you probably already know all the details: Martin's in his second year of college, Karin graduated high school and got her driver's license. I'm still active in the AWC, Anders built a kayak, blah blah blah.

For ME, at least, it was a good summary and look back through the major events of the year, and a way to collect and contain it all for posterity. And it's a way to personalize, sort of, the physical cards I do send out, at least the photos I put on the back are, I suppose. But it's not really personal in the sense that it's not a handwritten PERSONAL letter to each of the admittedly fewer and fewer people that I send cards in the mail to each year for Christmas. It's just a rundown of what we've been up to. I even post it on this blog, and on FB, so it's even LESS personal, in that sense.

Now I find myself second-guessing the whole thing. I like having the year-end summary to look back on, but maybe it's time to rethink, and maybe, retire? Sending and receiving cards itself as a tradition, is so far on the way out, that it seems kind of silly to worry about whether I should write a letter to stick in some of them or not. I'm guessing that most people, like us, send only few cards, and maybe only to the people that send to them, if that. It feels like most people have given up writing or sending letters at ALL, ever, not just for the holidays.

The cards we received were always such a big part of the Christmas traditions when I was growing up. We always found ways to display them, and they added a nice touch of visual Christmas cheer to the house. We saved the fronts of the cards and recycled them as gift tags the next year...I STILL do that, actually. There were always a few that stayed in the box year after year because they were just too pretty to use. I suppose it's one of those things that is slowly dying out as more and more people move to digital greetings and stop sending paper cards. I already realize that everyone on my list of people to send cards to is around my age or older. I'm willing to bet that my children and their children won't send holiday cards at all.

Part of it is the high cost of mailing anything, part is just time and resources. And I suppose, it's one of those things that is good for the environment: using less paper means cutting down fewer trees, which is a good thing. But it makes me kind of sad to think that I haven't written a real letter to anyone in over a year, probably longer, and haven't received anything other than a couple dozen Christmas cards each year, apart from my mom who is awesome at sending cards for birthdays and other holidays to all of us...she puts me to shame.

So, I don't know. Should I keep doing this or not? Part of what is great about getting letters and cards is that you know the person writing and sending it is taking TIME and energy to think of YOU. It gives you a real sense that you are important enough to someone for them to spend the time to write you a letter or card. Traditions change and fade and that's what this one seems to be doing. I just hope there are other traditions growing and coming that will take on the job of communication and news and keep us connected with our distant friends and family.

This week: AWC julbord on Wednesday, hosting book group here on Thursday, dinner with Debbie & Camilla on Saturday. Good things to look forward to!
 pensive
mood: pensive
music: Poema—Wool Coats
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Comments

Mostly due to the very high cost of postage, my card list is down to about 6 now - people who have very little (if any) internet presence.

I was never a fan of the Christmas letter, but my mother loved to get them.

6! And I thought 25 was a small list!

I know that Christmas is seen by some as being over commercialised and many people declare that they can't be bothered with it any of it anymore. But you won't find me saying that. I see it as the one time of year that can really bring out the best in so many people. There is a mood of goodwill that is infectious. "Why are you bothering to send Christmas cards?" another friend asks "people don't send them back and they simply get thrown away", but to me it's a small thing I can to show people that I am thinking of them, especially if they are far away. And I've ceased to worry whether people send me one or not. I'm doing it for myself, because it is something I want to do. Of course, it is still nice to get mail that it not a bill these days!

Like you. I've pared down my list drastically and kept it to sending out cards to those people who I really like. I'll continue to do this every year as long as I can. And I keep cards that I love, either for a pretty motif, an amusing card, a glimpse of Australia etc.

As for holiday letters, I get a couple from people who aren't on the internet much (generally older people). I like those - I'm aware that they present an edited, dressed-up-for-company view, but they still provide precious glimpses of information from the people I've chosen to keep in my life. But for people I keep in touch with via email and LJ, it seems a bit redundant as I've followed the events as they happened.

You still get one, like it or not! :D

(Anonymous)
From Megsie

I love getting Christmas letters. I write one collaboratively with my husband, and we send it out every year--in the mail. I don't post it to facebook or anything like that. It is snail mail all the way! I began writing them when Sarah was born, so this year will be my 18th letter. I am hoping that I have kept at least one from every year, so that when all the kids are gone, I have a nice summary of their childhood Christmases.

I am, however, one of the few who writes anything. We get mostly pictures in the mail as cards.

Re: From Megsie

How fun that your husband writes it with you! That doesn't happen here, haha!

(Anonymous)

Yesterday in NYC with Kristy we were discussing just this topic. She said she looks forward every year to my Christmas letter as she gets fewer every year. I agreed on the fewer and also on receiving her letter. Then I informed her I wouldn't be doing Christmas cards this year but that I will send out something in the New Year.

I look forward to yours every year and I read your blog and Facebook and talk to you on the phone somewhat regularly all year and yet when I receive your card and know what is in it I set aside everything immediately to sit down and savor the connection with you. My TOOOO far away Seester.

Love ya! Miss ya! Wish we were closer!
Sarah

DEFINITELY too far away SEESTER!! WAAH! SMOOCH

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