travel and life with lee mylne

My Christmas card list

A VERY MERRY ANTIPODEAN CHRISTMAS CARD: This design benefits the National Breast Cancer Foundation and the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation. In Australia they’re called thongs, in NZ they are jandals.

It’s the middle of December, and so far I’ve only received one Christmas card. From my mother.  And somehow, I won’t be surprised if it’s the only one I get. The art of Christmas card-giving is dying. And I’m as much to blame for that as anyone.

There was a time that I sent out about 80 cards each year.  The list grew longer the more I travelled, and having lived in six countries and eight cities over my adult life, often making friends with  other expats, I was sending them off to all corners of the world.  I loved the sound of the postman arriving in December, bringing all that news and glad tidings from my friends around the globe.

Then children came into my life and there didn’t seem enough time to write cards. I started taking the short-cuts that were also familiar in the cards that dropped into my letter box: the annual family photograph and photocopied “form letter” updating everyone on our year’s news.  Some people hated those letters, deeming them too impersonal, but with kids around and the usual pre-Christmas rush, it was either that or nothing. Some years I bought cards but only sent them out – with a short personal message written inside – to those people who sent them to me.

Eventually, as time went by, some years it became nothing…or the Christmas cards finally made it into the post in January.  Then came the internet, and everything seemed easier again.  The letter became an email and the photo an attachment – but the message still got through (as long as everyone on my list had an email address), and delivery was instant.

While my annual string of cards is no more, I should say that I have actually received two Christmas cards this year, counting an electronic version sent by friends in Saudi Arabia. And an email apology for the lack of card from a friend who tells me that my relocation during the past year has resulted in my dropping off her mailing list (I’ll count that as her card).

But I love the clever design of many cards, and I have kept  many of those I’ve received over the years that have been truly different, very personal or just downright quirky (think Santa driving a Toyota ute with a camel in the back from friends in Saudi).  One year, a real estate agent I’d been dealing with sent out wonderful hand-designed cards of Queenslander cottages.

And of course, the best of all, those hand-made cards that came home from kindergarten or primary school, all stuck together with glue, with messages of love from my children. They’re squirreled away in a box, treasured.

I have always tried to choose designs that reflect the country I’m in.  Let’s face it, folks, there’s no white Christmas in the southern hemisphere so why do so many people send cards festooned with snow scenes and red-breasted robins? (Sorry, Mum).

Without being corny, there are some clever and fun cards out there reflecting Australian life…and often they benefit local charities, which is even better.  And that’s what those on my Christmas card list this year will be getting.

Yes, I’ve decided to revive my list. But I won’t be sending to all and sundry. This year my cards will be sent only to those who’ve played a special part in my life over the past 12 months. This year, I will make time to tell them so.  And it won’t bother me one little bit if they don’t send one back to me.

16 Responses to “My Christmas card list”

    • Lee

      I didn’t say I’d sent them out yet…just bought them! And for some people, I’m not actually certain which part of the world they are in at any given moment :-)

  1. Cynical Old Hack

    You cheer me up.

    I thought it must be my generation dying off and going into nursing homes. So far I’ve had just five cards…and only a single overseas one instead of the usual four.

    C’est la vie, I guess. But I do feel better.

    • Lee

      Glad it cheered you! I was a bit worried I might sound a little bit “bah humbug” when I don’t really mean to be at all…

    • Lee

      I don’t hate sending them…just don’t ever seem to find the time necessary. But yes, LOVE getting them!

  2. Christine (Food Wine Travel)

    Hi Lee, This has been the leanest year to date for me as far as Christmas cards go. But I suppose a nice way of looking at it is that with the ease of the Internet we are actually keeping in contact with friends and family year-round, rather than relying on an annual catch-up.

    • Lee

      Yes, you are quite right Christine. I do keep in closer touch with many people year-round, so the idea of cards (which also isn’t a cheap exercise) is really for the joy of getting snail-mail!

  3. Bev Malzard

    It’s the only traditional thing I do at Christmas – send out card. I buy a few packets mid November and go through my address book – yes, still use a paper address book and send cards to family old friends and especially overseas friends who I don’t get to see. They have all gone out now and the returns are coming. It’s my best way of doing something personal that’s not email or facebook – and it remind me to follow up in the new year. It was a great habit of my mother’s that I follow through – she was odd – she always wanted to be the first card for Christmas in my letter box – usually about mid November – miss her at this time of the year.
    This year I instigated a new traditional just for me – I send one postcard a week to people – snail mail – even if it’s just to say hi, would love to see you, miss you or never want to see you again . . .

    • Lee

      Glad to hear that the tradition has not completely died…there are still some stalwarts out there who MAKE time to send cards. And Bev, postcards are something I love too. But I admit to being an occasional sender. Sometimes when I’m travelling I buy them, write them, and then can’t find a post office! But I love your idea of sending one a week. I’ll look forward to receiving one from you some week in 2013! Snail mail has an excitement about it that electronic mail just can’t match.

  4. Penny

    I so understand where you’re coming from – this mirrors my own story exactly! I’ve received only two Christmas cards so far this year (mind you I haven’t sent any – only one calendar!), so really look forward to getting yours … ;-)

    • Lee

      The calendar tradition…that’s another thing! Maybe it’s a Kiwi tradition, Penny. My mum sends me one every year (and I send one to her).

  5. theoneandonlykrismadden

    I loved this piece Lee. It mirrors exactly what I was thinking at the time. For the first time in a few years I have also sent out a few Christmas cards. I hate email Xmas cards. We get so many emails every day it devalues the true sentiment of actually sitting down and thinking about the person you are writing to. As the late great author Bruce Courtney once wrote: “An email is not a thank you note.” I think the same goes for Xmas cards.

    • Lee

      Thanks Kris. Glad I am not alone. I sometimes think an email Christmas card is better than none at all…but for me it falls in the realm of a business communication, rather than a personal one. And increasingly I’m deleting those without even opening them. A lot of them are from businesses I rarely hear from during the year – and some I’ve opened have been just the same as another business has sent me! Not exactly personal…

  6. restlessjo

    I have quite a lot of Polish familyand cards are my way of expressing affection. I have to dust off my feeble Polish each time too. Aside from that, our house has a Delft rack, and it looks great full of cards at Christmas.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family.


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