Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Holiday Greeting Cards

I send a ton of Christmas cards out every year. It's something I've done for as long as I can remember. Not only do I send cards, but for years and years I typically wrote long letters in each and every one. Throw in all my friends and former coworkers, and at one point my Christmas card list was bigger than the phone book of some small towns.

Most of my cards go to family. Both of my parents have (or had) eight brothers and sisters. Nearly all married, had kids, and lived in and around Lexington, KY. Not only do I have a very large extended family, but we saw each other very frequently. I practically grew up with my mother's siblings and their children. I'm closer to many of my cousins than most people are to their siblings.

Before I left Lexington for greener pastures in 1996, my long letters went mostly to friends and family that lived out of town. Once I left town, I needed to write a letter in every card. My annual Christmas card became my only contact with many of the aunts, uncles, and cousins that I grew up with. These annual letters were something that I enjoyed writing, and I've heard from many of the recipients that they looked forward to receiving them.

I stopped writing letters in every card several years ago. Those that send me a card are more likely to get one of my letters in return than those who never send cards. Some of my cousins that never send cards have been dropped from my list all together. Friends and family that simply sign their names to a card without even a "hope you are well" are less likely to get a letter from me than those who write at least a sentence or two. One must have standards.

My card list is much shorter now. I've lost touch with some of the friends and former coworkers that once received cards from me. My gay friends are so bad about sending cards that I gave up sending them cards years ago and stay in touch via e-mail and the occasional phone call--if at all. Frankly, with very few exceptions the gay people I've encountered in 30+ years of being out haven't been very good friends--especially when you or they move away. Out of sight, out of mind. With only two exceptions (2 guys that were in the circle of friends I had when I first came out), I get tired of doing all the work to maintain those connections.

In Mom's family, all my aunts and all but one of my uncles have passed away, along with two of my cousins. Most of Dad's siblings left Lexington long before I did. All but one are still living though they are getting really old now--the youngest is in his late 60s. I haven't seen or heard from some of my cousins for decades, and it's been a couple of years since I've seen most of the rest. Time marches on.

The day will come when my card list will be short enough that I'll be able to write my cards in an afternoon. While I have sometimes felt overwhelmed by the quantity of cards that I had to do, it's always been more a labor of love than a chore. Maybe I should reconsider some of those I've crossed off because I am, as always...

The Crotchety Old Man


rptrcub said...

I have a problem keeping up with everyone on a Christmas card list. In fact, for those who are in social networking sites or in my e-mail address book -- I would prefer to send a personalized greeting to everyone. My closest family will still receive cards.

In the interest of being green and not wasting paper, I would much rather receive e-mailed greetings or phone calls. Perhaps it's my 21st century-ness coming out.

I do love my friends but it's hard to feel like you've gotten to everyone when they live all over the globe.

The Crotchety Old Man said...

I have a box full of Christmas and other cards that I have received from friends and family that are no longer with us. From time to time I go through them. Your personalized greetings won't have nearly the value of these cards--if they're even around. I'll keep my paper cards, thank you very much. One day, you'll wish you had, too.

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