As a kid, when the Christmas letters and pictures of people I didn’t ever remember meeting would show up in the mail it was intriguing. They’d spark stories from my parents of things that had happened before we existed. A first fascinating glimpse as a child of “Oh!- My parents were people before they were parents?!?” Inevitably, the stories would contain information about how they last saw me when I was “…this big…” that, as I got older, likely caused a bit of eye rolling, but I was hooked. I loved the Christmas cards.
As an adult I continued to love getting Christmas cards, letters and photos, but for a long time I never sent one. First, I thought I didn’t have anything to write about (that wasn’t true). Then, I thought that I didn’t know how to write one (but I do have this blog…). And then, just a few years ago, out of excuses and worried that if I didn’t start sending out letters of my own I’d lose my own influx of pre-children memories, I wrote one.
It did not turn out like other peoples letters, but it was a lot of fun.
I’m still writing Christmas letters, and they still aren’t normal (the choose your own adventure one is still the favorite), and I still love sending them, and I still love receiving replies….
I get many cards and letters and they are all beautiful. Envelopes with lovely handwritten addresses, cute christmas return labels, christmas stamps and even an extra sticker on the back. I open them to find gorgeous cards, family photos and letters printed on festive holiday paper.
My cards are not like that.
I have terrible handwriting. Some say it would get better with practice, I would point them to my penmanship grades in school and disagree. I have handwriting so bad it’s not uncommon for me to not be able to read my own lists. Of course, I can do better than my list jotting down skills. But it’s slow and hard and still, well, messy. I’m certain that any time I even think of handwriting the hundred plus addresses on our Christmas cards my mailman gets the shivers. It’s not a good plan. So I have gone the technological route. An excel spread sheet. Mail merge. And
just like that, with a few false starts, a ream of paper and a package of label sheets later, I’ve got my address labels.
Then comes one of my favorite parts, sticking them on the envelopes. A little Christmas music in the background and peel and stick, peel and stick. Mulling over friends’ and families’ names as they pass by, eating an occasionally cookie – and wondering why on earth I have no rhyme or reason to my spreadsheet addresses!
I have Mr John Smith’s and I have John Smiths.
I have John & Jane Smith and one John/Jane Smith/Doe.
Some long term boyfriends have made the cut while spouses have been left off completely.
And if you kept your maiden name – likely I’ve ignored that too.
I even have a few names forlornly floating in their label on their own, no address to be found.
But it’s funny, once those odd labels are stuck on and I move on to tracking down missing addresses, affixing return address labels and stamps, stuffing letters and adding a note here or there, how it no longer seems important.
I’m too caught up in the fun of sending out mail and details like that have never bothered me anyway. If you receive a letter from me perhaps it’ll be all typed up- like a business sent it. Perhaps you’ve moved and you’ll get my attempt at legible handwriting. Perhaps your return address label will have a pheasant on it – or maybe a christmas tree. The stamp could have a snowman or a flag- it’s really hard to say. The letter printed on plain, white paper, will, no doubt, be folded crooked. I might have handwritten an extra note – maybe you’ll be able to read it… probably not. And I hope your name will be on it – but there is a good chance it isn’t.
Yes, my christmas letters have a presentation problem, but I’m having too much fun to fix it!
Keep it up Jessie.