Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas cards

OK, I'd like to know how much folks spend on Christmas cards every year. Beginning about two weeks before Christmas, I receive three or four cards a day in the mail. I should keep track of the postage folks have collectively spent sending me Christmas cards and pictures of the family at the beach. Now, I'm not one to get into the whole, "Jesus wouldn't do that" stuff, but I'm beginning to wonder about the stewardship of Christmas cards. Here are some reasons I think folks might want to re-consider the whole Christmas card thing:
  • The trees we kill with all those envelopes.
  • The envelopes and cards that people don't recycle.
  • The extra work for postal workers who are already over burdened during Christmas was extra packages and whatnot.
  • Does everybody in your address book really want to see you and the family at the beach?
  • The chemicals that go into developing the pictures that go with the card.
  • The time you spend addressing cards.
  • The money you could go for something else like food banks, heifer project, or Salvation Army
In line with that last thought, I wonder what would happen if everybody in a given congregation would take the money they usually spend on sending Christmas cards, pool it together, choose a charity or worthy organization, and send them the money. What if everybody donated the x number of hours they usually spend addressing Christmas cards and helped to feed the homeless, or read to children, or a variety of other service projects?

On a lighter note, I hope my Mom doesn't read this, because she works for Hallmark. :)

Merry Christmas everyone!


Jerilyn said...

I totally hear all of your arguments and see your points (and even agree with them) but still there is something nostalgic about a pretty card, a greeting from an old friend you maybe hear from once a year (via the Christmas card)... I would be sad to see it go. The way I ease my conscience a bit is by buying the rather expensive Unicef cards, knowing that a decent amount of that is going to a great cause.

Elizabeth said...

you are such a scrooge, alan! christmas cards are a wonderful thing that help people reconnect! besides everything has become so electronic that it is really nice to take your marker out and decorate the envelope for someone you care about to receive! plus, like jerilyn said, there are lots of non-profits that offer christmas cards (like the humane society or md anderson or unicef). and, we do recycle our envelopes. guess whose not getting a card this year? (maybe that's what you wanted?)

Alan Bancroft said...

I'm not sure why I ever post theological stuff on my blog. Nobody comments on that stuff, but question Christmas cards and I end up with 10 comments. I love it.

From both Jerilyn and Elizabeth, I hear a certain yearning for connection that isn't e-mail/facebook/telephonic. I totally hear that. I'm right there with you. That's why I still love it that my Dad sends me a handwritten note every once in a while.

I wonder, though, if Christmas cards really accomplish the goal of making a meaningful connection over the miles. As for me, I'd much rather receive a handwritten note from a person each year (not necessarily at Christmas) than a card I know that 50 other people on the Christmas Card List got.

I guess one of my questions behind the question is: Why is Christmas the only time I receive mail from most of the people who send me Christmas cards?

And finally, yes, Elizabeth, spend an extra minute kissing Andy or talking to the baby during this busy time of the year and send me a letter in March or April. :)

So thankful for friends like Jerilyn and Elizabeth,


Rebekah said...

From Rebekah: Every year the first card I receive is from an older couple at the church. Within the last year they moved closer to children due to some health issues. This year the first card? same couple. Second card? another older couple who hasn't been at church in weeks due to a fall. Receiving the cards is important to me because I know that sending them is important to them.

Christmas cards--even with just a signature--are personal, while pooling money to give to a charity is an impersonal act. And the non-profit would have to send letters of acknowledgment back anyway. And many families do take advantage of extra service opportunities at Christmas.

I think you have good points, but I'm just not there with you

From Ashley: As far as wasted postage, printing, time and effort, think of all the cost and waste associated with April 15 in the US. (He wanted to keep going, but he will have to send a separate email to you on this one.)