ON MY MIND: Is it worth it?

On My Mind | Maureen Burns

To send or not to send holiday cards — that is the question many were faced with recently. What do you think? What did you do?

We seemed to get about the same amount as in past years, though I heard many saying that they weren’t sending cards this year.

Postal rates have really made this holiday pastime costly. For many, it is even prohibitive. The price of cards is also something to think about.

Aside from this, there are many online options — Facebook greetings, email, texting — these all add to holiday communications with no cost.

Why do we snail mail holiday greetings? Is it worth it?

For many, many years, I have not sent cards. Nor do I send a traditional family newsletter, though we have sent an odd ball one.

Ours began in the seventies with some family news, some family photos and lots of cartoons. Through the years it has evolved into hardly any family news, only a photo or two and mostly cartoons.

All year long I collect the best cartoons I can find. That would be best by my odd ball standards, of course. Once in a while, but rarely I admit, I even save them in a place where I can find them when holiday card time comes around. Most years, though, I can’t find half of what I’ve saved until after the cards are sent.

In looking back, an interesting thing has happened. When you have a collection of the best cartoons every year since the seventies, you have a real synopsis of our American lives and what has been going on through the last 40 years. There are things that we laughed at years ago that are not considered humorous anymore. Some are now absolutely politically incorrect. Some were very topical but aren’t relevant at all now.

Some showed parenting in ways that are no longer considered appropriate. Others showed kids and/or parents and adults in ways that are no longer funny.

Life moves along and everything changes. It turns out that cartoons are mirrors of who we are at given moments and given times in history. As we change and grow, so do the cartoons about us. As our nation and society evolve, cartoons reflect it all and end up being like witty photo albums of our lives and all we have experienced.

Years ago we made a conscious decision that, yes, there was a sizable cost to sending our “cards” but it was worth it to us. Why? Because our family and far away friends mean so much to us and staying in touch with them is very important.

Once, at a talk, a lady shared with me that she didn’t have many people left in her life. I am guessing she was about 40 when she shared this. She said, “You have to hold on to relationships and I guess I just let go and let the people slip through my fingers. I didn’t hold on to them. Now they have all fallen through the cracks.”

For sure, family and friendships are fragile and they will fall away if neglected.

When we think of the cost of sending holiday greetings to others, that may be the deciding factor. Are these people worth keeping in my life? Do I care about them enough to do this? If we do, then the cost may be worthwhile if we think we can afford it.

Now I almost feel like sending these silly “cards” is something I am able to do as a gift to people I care about. It, hopefully, makes them laugh and laughter is a wonderful gift to give. For example …

A national announcement says, “In this difficult time, when so many people are having trouble finding enough to eat, we have decided to extend the five second rule to a full ten seconds.”

Santa and two elves sit at a table that says, “So you think you can prance.” A reindeer is in front of them and Santa says, “Let’s see what you’ve got.”

A plane lands and a ton of people call on their cells. “Hi. I just landed. Yeah. We’re still taxiing. I’ll give you a call when I get to baggage claim.”

A teacher says to the class, “If Heather has two mommies, and each of them has two brothers, and one of those brothers has another man for a ‘roommate’, how many uncles does Heather have?”

A doc says to a lady on his table, “You’ve got ‘being old.’”  Another doc says to a patient, “Take two whenever you can get the cap off.”

Well, as I said, these are the signs of our lives and the times we’re in. We might as well laugh at them. Next year there will be new things we haven’t even thought of yet.

If holiday “cards” can keep us boosted by the relationships they keep in our lives, then they have a higher purpose after all. And, of course, everyone can use a little more higher purpose.

Happy New Year, dear reader. I hope it’s a great year for you.

Maureen Burns, a Greenville resident, is a professional speaker and author. Her e-mail address is maureenburns@maureenburns.com.

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