Monday, December 23, 2013

The cards are in the mail! Really. They are.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: The thought process goes something like this:

Breaking news! they just arrived!
November 1: I'm gonna find the BEST holiday cards anyone has ever seen. It's gonna be great, I'm going to send them EVERYWHERE and it's a good thing. Plenty of time.

November 10: Plenty of time.

November 20: Plenty of time.

November 25: Thanksgiving! Where did the time go?

I have these..these are good...
Dec 1: Okay, really, I'd better get on this. I'm gonna find the BEST holiday cards EVER.

Dec 5: I can't find any in stores. Hmm. Where did all the good cards go

Dec 10: NO CARDS! But still kind of plenty of time.

Dec 15: You know, they probably don't have to be the BEST CARDS EVER. An "okay" card is fine. "Pretty nice" will do. It's the thought that counts. It would be nicer to have great ones, though. I'll keep looking. Plenty of time.

These are good...
Dec 16: Everyone else's cards are arriving. WHEN did they have time to do this?

Dec 17: Internet! Buy cards on the INTERNET! WHY didn't I think of this earlier??

Dec 18: Click, click, click. Here's a great one! Rats, no longer in stock. Here's one! Sold out. Here's one! "Available Dec 26." What good will that do me? CLick click click. Tick tick tock.

Dec 19: Last year's cards! I bet I have some left from last year. The ones I didn't send...

Dec 22: New Year's Cards! I'm gonna send the BEST ONES EVER!

Dec 23: Okay, Reds. How YOU doin'?
I liked these, too..

 RHYS BOWEN: We have so many friends and relatives scattered across the world that Christmas cards are a must. Sometimes it's the only communication we have all year. We used to send well over 100 but sadly our older friends become fewer and fewer each year. These days we send out a newsletter separately and I send e-cards to people I know will enjoy the Jacquie Lawson scenes of the English countryside.

I love receiving cards and putting them up all over the house.

HALLIE EPHRON: I love getting cards. Real cards. E-cards, not so much. But hey, it's better than not getting. I love to just get an email from an old friend who's been out of touch, just because the holidays are upon us and we miss each other. Especially I love silly photograph cards (thanks, Dean and Andrew!)

And I usually send cards but it's harder and harder to find nice ones. That's my excuse, anyway, and I'm sticking to it. Because this year it does not seem to be happening.

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Holiday cards are just too much for me most years, so I let my husband take care of them. In the last few years, to save paper and postage, we've been sending New Year cards online. There are sites with amazing design capabilities and you can add photographs, too. 

DEBORAH CROMBIE: We've made our own cards for almost twenty years. At first it was things like gold hand-stamped pears from a woodblock we made ourselves (how did I ever find time to do that????) Then we went to photo cards--not the "family in silly hats" kind, but really pretty personal photos (Rick's a very good photographer)--the house or the tree or dogs or cats. But sending 150 top-quality cards--with postage!--got to be overwhelming, and a couple of years ago we started sending e-cards.

We use a company called Paperless Post. We put in our own photo, design the text and pick the envelope, which opens like a real card. And people have an option to reply by email to the card, so we hear from a lot of friends. Maybe one day we'll go back to sending real cards... or maybe not. Here's the pic that's going on this year's card, starring fifteen-month-old Dax, posing on our deck in the recent Texas ice storm.

ROBERTA ISLEIB: I have the cards. (and here they are!)  It's a small matter of sending them out.  We are always traumatized by trying to figure out labels...this year no exception!

HANK: Me, too, Roberta! Why are labels so difficult? (I use Paperless Post for invitations...Good? Or end the world as we know it? But that's another blog..)  And I am a big fan of holiday letters...and applaud anyone who takes the time! Anyway, Reds, how about you? 


  1. I love Christmas cards, and I always buy a couple of boxes early in the season because I want Precious Moments angels and they always seem to disappear from the shelves approximately twelve seconds after the cards are put out in the store. So now I have boxes of cards, but somehow the process of actually addressing and mailing them eludes me. Needless to say, this year is no different and they’re still here, still in the box, and I’m thinking if I do them one day this week they’ll still be delivered during the holiday season. We’ll have to see if that actually happens . . . .

  2. I love Christmas cards, too. We send fewer cards each year it seems but it's a major expedition to find the right ones. They MUST be printed in the US and, sadly, they're hard to find.

  3. I love Christmas cards and I used to spend so much time picking them out, addressing them, stuffing them with the annual letter...

    I am not sure what it is about life these days, but I just don't have time for that anymore. And so, that tradition has virtually ended.

    Now, I see all of my local friends at our annual cookie party (75 people bring a dozen cookies each, so have tons of cookies to eat). When they leave, each person gets some cookies and an angel ornament we pick out each year. They seem to love that, so I am happy with that tradition.

    But I do still feel bad for the out-of-town folks. I make an effort to e-mail everyone though, so at least we can stay in touch.

  4. Paperless Post! We don't send paper cards anymore....

  5. Hank, look for Christmas cards on sale this Thursday and Friday. Then put them away until next Thanksgiving.

    As I did, 15 years ago, the last time I sent Christmas cards. Yes, they are still sitting there.

    I love Christmas letters, especially the kind with handwritten notes on the back or in the margins, personalizing the message. And the kind with family photos are fun to get, too. I save them all.

    Christmas cards for the sake of sending something leave me cold. Nothing but a signature? Okay. One card came with NO signature. What the heck is the point of that?

    Instead of Christmas cards our family of wildlife photographers sends out a calendar with photos of birds my husband and his brother took. They are wildlife photographers and sons of a wildlife photographer, and the calendar company has bought their photos for over 50 years. If we accidentally skip sending one to a longtime friend or relative they call to see what happened!

  6. Deb's card is so adorable, I'm looking into Paperless Post...

    What a great gift, Karen!

  7. Oh, I love the calendar step-kids do it every year, and it's such a treat. But they..are organized. :-)

    It's very reassuring, I must say, to hear this from all of you.. There's nothing more wonderful than "I'm not the only one..."

    Is any one still shopping? I need some reassurance in that category, too...

  8. I think holiday letters get a bad rap. IF they are entertaining and concise (like my wordsmith husband's), they are a great way to stay in touch.
    As to the sending of cards--Up until 25 December it is Advent, not Christmas, no matter what the retail industry may say about it. Then we have the 12 days of Christmas, ending in Epiphany. So, you have into January for sending cards that are officially "Christmas" cards.
    As to getting great cards,...well, you are on your own there.

  9. I do both. Paper cards and notes for friends and family we don't see often and who aren't big computer folks we can drop notes to on a regular basis (or keep in touch through Facebook). Jacquie Lawson eCards to those who are "plugged in." I love those cards!

  10. Libby! You are so brilliant! Fabulous. Whew. Getting a manicure. (okay, not really. But WHEW!)

  11. Kaye, you are SO organized!

    Buit isn't it fun to open real cards? Real letters in the mail are so unusual now.. Sometimes I even forget to check my mailbox at work..

  12. I can usually manage the cards in the mail. This year I found a card with an illustration of a black dog in the snow, which looked a lot like my black dog, who loves snow. I can also manage to get presents purchased in good order. Where I fall down is WRAPPING.

  13. Lori, one day at a time right. (I know I know, there are not so many days left....)
    Once you get the wrapping started it's fun though, right? Right? xo

  14. Last year sending cards to my JRW friends was good, because I made contact with other people without having a lot of personal obligation that I was unable to meet. That was our entire Christmas last year. I don't know if I admitted that to anyone... but that really was it in our house last year. It was so good to receive cards notes from the reds and commenters.

  15. We discovered that Paperless Post no longer seems to have the opening-envelope option! At least not on the card we picked, because we wanted full-page photo with no text (Rick had done the text in Photoshop.) But the cards are still really fun, and we've already had messages back from half the people we sent them to. Such fun to hear back from people.

    We do still like getting paper cards, but I never have time to read them until after Christmas...

    And no, shopping is not quite finished, and no wrapping at all. Wah!!!!

  16. PS: This year is a little easier. xoxoxo

  17. We put our cards in the mail yesterday - after two years of not doing them. Just ran out of time. Our list has dwindled from over 60 to less than 40 - people move, don't send new addresses, I can' find them or they don't respond to requests for addresses, etc. I wonder how many returns I'll get this year?

    I was so proud to be done with my holiday shopping two weeks ago - then my father-in-law hooked me into buying gifts for the kids, so yep, back to the mall! Ugh!

  18. Back when I had a REAL office and a REAL secretary, I'd get out hundreds of cards (sometimes my secretary brought her kids in, and I'd pay them to stamp or seal the envelopes).

    I switched to e-cards (Jacquie Lawson) about a decade ago, when they were new and novel and everybody loved them. I think people still do, but one has to take the time to watch them.

    And then Facebook happened, and a year or so ago, I just posted an e-card on FB.

    If Christmas wouldn't come so close to the end of the tax year, maybe I'd still be getting cards out. Then again, maybe not.

    Meanwhile, I have a whole cabinet full of unused cards. I send one or two a year, usually to old people who don't have internet connections (but they are dying off). And of course, every charity in the world sends you a "free box" of cards, so the store of available cards never diminishes.

    (I receive fewer and fewer cards now that I don't send them, but that's okay, because-- since I no longer have an office where we'd tape them to the inside of the door and all around it-- I have no place for them anyway.

    With Chanukah so early, and the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas so short, it doesn't feel like the holiday season anyway. I was dealing with Medicare open enrollment until December 7th. Younger people are dealing with the ACA. Who has time for holidays?

  19. Ellen K! MAybe just send me all those cards? :-) Or maybe next year, we should PLAN--and we can all do this card thing together!

  20. Reine! I am looking for your address..looking looking looking..

  21. Yay Mary! That must feel so great!

    We should invent a place where people could put their addresses so others could find them. I think that used to be called the "phone book," right?

  22. Did most of the long-distance ones and now am tackling the local yokels. Trying to push out 40 today, but erred in eating a fabulous French dish with my mom -- followed by some Red Vines as a late night snack. That's definitely slowing me down. Wish me luck!

  23. Now I must know about Red Vines? and how they slow you down???

    The calendar sounds amazing! Usually we send a lot of cards, with a photo, and a letter. This year, I'm hoping the pictures tell the story:)

    Merry Christmas to all of you Reds, we love having you visit and contribute. You make this blog what it is! xoxo (that's my card to all of you)

  24. I love Christmas cards! In fact, if I could bring back the art of letter writing (the snail mail kind), I would.

    I don't have a huge mailing list -- only about 40 people -- however, I like to write notes in each one. Every year, I tell myself, just write a few lines. No big deal. Every year, I write a mini-letter. Time consuming!

    So I have this ritual. I dedicate an afternoon to watching the BBC version of Pride & Prejudice (Colin Firth!) -- four hours long, I think -- and go to town on cards. I kind of relaxing, actually. Gets me in the proper Christmas spirit.

  25. Hank, yes, the phone book. Unless you were like my parents, who wanted to have an unlisted address/number. :)

  26. So many young people don't have land lines these days, so they aren't in the phone book. Thank goodness for social media.

    Yesterday I got a phone call from my past, and it was because of a Christmas card I sent in 1985. My first husband's stepmother and I tried to keep in touch through the divorce, and after my ex-father-in-law died, but we eventually lost contact. I had two more children, and life moves on.

    When she called she asked if I was "that" Karen. I recognized her voice instantly, and we had a nice catching up kind of chat. She had found my Christmas card from 1985, giving her our new address, and asking her to call me at our phone number. Luckily, we still live in the same place, and still have the same number.

    I asked her why it took her 28 years to call me! We had a good laugh about that.

  27. Last year I really wanted to send out cards to JRW people and LOVED the ones I received from JRW people. Unfortunately, I fell so far behind with Christmas stuff that I don't remember if I sent cards to ANYONE last year. (I did send out one card to a JRW person during the year because I decided to send one card at a time throughout 2013. I never did finish doing that. I am SO ashamed of myself.) This year cards got sent to my remaining aunts and uncle, to some cousins whom I never see (I don't have addresses for ALL of them), and to one friend whom I've had for ages. I've already told people I see regularly NOT to expect a card from me. I didn't even send any to my siblings, but we tend NOT to send cards to each other. The thing is, I LOVE receiving them, so I feel like a hypocrite! At one time, back in my twenties, I made my cards. I haven't even begun to decorate, I just realized I'm missing gifts for a couple of people on my list, and I'm determined to avoid the mall. It's a couple of miles away from my office, and all last week the traffic from people trying to get to the mall after work reached from the mall all the way back to where I work! I may stop off at a wine store in my neighborhood for some of the remaining gifts. That won't do for the toddler, though..

  28. Naomi, If you do your 40, I'll do my 40. Even, say, 20. Tomorrrow we can do the rest. Right??

  29. Lisa ALber, that is a terrific ritual! Multi-tasking in just the perfect way. Trying that, too.

  30. Hank, your post was hilarious, and it struck close to home, too. I always think I've got loads of time, and then it's hurrying to try and beat Christmas Day. Deb, I love the Dax card, so sweet. Roberta, I love the multi-picture cards. My brother sent one this year with the year in review of his family. Very nice.

    I love Christmas cards, but for some reason, the past two years it's been more of a chore than a pleasure. Maybe if I actually did do the cards early and not at the last minute, it would become pleasurable again. I have some really old Christmas cards from my parents house that I kept after they died, and they are lovely.

    My favorite brand of Christmas cards to send are Lang. You can get them in stores (might be hard to find), or easier still is to order them online. I have a friend who always sends them, and I try to send them, too, as it's a special little signal between us of longtime friendship and love. Maybe, I'll be smart and order my ones for next year today.

    I was glad to get my cards out before my Christmas cold/crud sickness hit on Friday. Both my husband and I are sick, but we have been to the doctor today and got drugs. I got a steroid shot and tablets, which I consider the medicine of the gods. I am hoping to be feeling well enough tomorrow to do my wrapping (oh why did I put that off?) and go to my daughter's on Christmas Day.

  31. Oh, Kathy, we feel for you! No fun to be sick on Christmas!

  32. Hank... you are so dear. xoxoxo I must have missed getting on this year's card list—here and with my fellow Gups. Blame Scrivener. Getting command of Scrivener is my New Year resolution. The tutorial is melting my brain. Will email you my address if I'm not too late—or my brain doesn't dribble out my ears first.

    If we all just switched to Happy New Year cards we could send them whenever and write about our other holidays in our letters. Think about it.

    xo Reine

  33. Great story, Karen. I love reconnecting with people who have been important to me.

  34. KAren, what great story! xoo And timing works the way it's supposed to work, right?

  35. DebRo--NO GUILT! It's supposed to :-)

  36. KAthy, poor thing..hope you're feeling better...

  37. KAthy, poor thing..hope you're feeling better...

  38. Reine, I LOVE the new years card idea, and I am now a subscriber to it. Absolutely.

  39. One of my friends, who is Irish, once suggested that holiday cards were not late if they were mailed by St. Patrick's day.