Remember those days when you were little and you knew soon it would be Christmas? You had no clue when exactly, and every day was filled with wonder and worry whether Santa, in a German’s case the Christ child, would bring you gifts? Because you hadn’t been all that good as expected? But you were always able to rely on the mail man to bring parcels from your very reliable relatives far away (and they didn’t know or care about your shenanigans) …
When we grew older, we stopped believing in Santa and the Christ child as givers of presents under the Christmas tree. We started saving pocket money to get gifts for our loved ones, and more often than not the gifts of our siblings were more of a surprise than those our parents gave us because they, after all, had our wish list. Our siblings not so much. And if our far-away relatives still sent a box, we were embracing their effort even more. Maybe we even waited to unwrap theirs, the far-traveled box, as the very last one to keep up the anticipation.
These days, Christmas mail has become something of a mass production. You can buy boxes of cards with envelopes at cut-rates. They don’t even look cheap. Or you can have your photos printed into cards by an online service – without ever so much as leaving the house. Poems and other texts are often included in the store-bought cards, leaving you hardly any space except for your signature. And some people just send you a glossy photo, no signature even anymore. Because they don’t care that much about you but don’t want to be thought to be uncaring?
I have created a load of Christmas cards again this year. I have bought card stock and stamped, embossed, and glued. And there will be a personal message for every single recipient of our Christmas mail, for sure. Because we know how nice it feels to get a personal greeting with a little more than just the signature. I have to admit though that we keep the number of Christmas cards to a limit. In the end, with over 300 Facebook friends between my husband and me, a card for everybody would get things a little out of hand.
We also create our own calendars for Christmas gifts. As we are the only ones in our families out here in the Pacific Northwest, it’s a great opportunity of sharing our life and the beautiful landscape with them and some friends. It connects us throughout the entire year, and thanks to the internet, creating a calendar is a walk in the park.
It gives us joy to prepare the Christmas mail. We have to do so quite early in some cases, too, because of our family overseas, and the postal service’s cut-off dates for them is about a week earlier than for recipients in the US. Sending out the mail also fills us with anticipation. Will we receive cards? Who will make the effort to put in more than their signature?
With the arrival of the first card, we empty a side table for its presentation. Some years, the table is so filled with beautiful cards that we have to place them behind each other to make room for more. It’s a Christmassy decoration in its own rights. Just like the wrapped parcels we place underneath the Christmas tree that goes up a while before Christmas, as is the American tradition in our family. Sometimes, the mail brings a parcel or a thicker envelope – these get treasured and placed underneath the tree as well.
To spread the joy, you need to feel it yourself, of course. I find the preparation of Christmas mail and gifts is a perfect way to make yourself feel Christmassy. It’s a bit over a month from now that our own anticipations will be answered. Shortly after Thanksgiving, all our mail will have gone overseas – and we know that there are hooks or nails in rooms waiting for our annual calendar gift, again. Even though it’s not Santa or the Christ child anymore, who is bringing us greetings and gifts, between the senders and the mail services, I think spreading the joy works pretty well. If with a little less of the fairy-tale magic of our childhood days.