“Oh yeah. This is going to make our friends jealous,” our friend laughs, checking out his family’s Christmas card.

“It’s a competition,” his wife adds. “Who has the cutest kids? Who took the best vacation? It’s not a Christmas card. It’s a competition.”

We’re among friends. The wine is flowing. The holiday card competition conversation is all in good fun, and yet in the days that follow I find myself reflecting on the increasingly extravagant cards we display in our house each year.

Have annual holiday card exchanges really become a competition?

HolidayCardsFrom Thanksgiving right on through New Year’s they fill our mailbox — a few handwritten messages on note cards, a half-dozen typed letters detailing the comings and goings of the year, but mostly what we hang on the red ribbon in our living room are photos of happy, smiling children and families.

One that stands out in my mind was from two years ago — my friend and her beautiful family of five wearing coordinating outfits and synchronized smiles.

Nearly everyone who visited our house during that holiday season commented on the card.

They looked absolutely beautiful together. But I also I knew from private conversations with my friend that she and her husband had not shared a bedroom in over six months.

And then there was the gorgeous, ultra high-end card that came from another friend this past year. A few weeks after the New Year she expressed more than a little regret after calculating that between the professional photography, the clothes for the photo shoot, and the printing and postage for her large list of family and friends, she spent close to $1,000. On cards.

But it was sitting in the theater with my kids watching the new Muppet movie that cinched my need to write about and invite dialog on this subject.

In the movie Kermit tracks down Fozzie Bear, who is living in an alley behind a theater. As the camera slowly pans around Fozzie’s roofless “house” and the rain begins to fall, Kermit comments that he had no idea his friend was living like this, adding “It looks so different in your Christmas cards.”

As a highly social and creative person, I love holiday card exchanges. I love receiving photos of my friend’s children and watching them grow, I love filling our living room with photos of friends and family, and I love creating our own family card, which each year gets tucked into our Christmas Memories book.

But I as begin to think about the greetings I will send this year (which will likely be New Year’s greetings at the rate December is flying by), I am doing so with a new level of awareness and a desire to be clear with my intentions before I start stuffing envelopes.

How about you? Have you sent (or will you be sending) holiday cards this year? How do you feel about the tradition?

 

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