A fellow blogger/author/artist who I subscribe to, recently posed the question, “When is a good time to send Christmas cards?” Which resulted in a simple response from me: “I wondered the same thing for many years!” There are several dilemmas that are brought about by that question. However her writing didn’t address ALL of my thoughts. So I’ll solicit from you guys, YOUR feelings on the subject: “When IS a good time to send Christmas cards?” Or better yet, etiquette aside, “When would you like to receive the card I send to you?”
Before you reply consider my opinions and concerns.
Keep in mind that most recipients are happy to hear from us no matter what time of year. Good grief, I am NOT the reason the Postal Service is bankrupt! This year, I have over 200 Christmas or Holiday cards on their way! And I’m not done! But then, I drop a note to my surgeons, my insurance agent, the nurses at Lakeside Hospital, the guy who helped me carry out groceries the other day, the mailman. I write to my Boys Town classmates, counselors, as well as new brothers and sisters from the home. I still send a card to a girl I dated during high school (and her husband)! And you know, they BOTH tell me every year, how much they appreciate it! However, I confess the ex-wives don’t receive anything from me, this time of year! I send, “Thinking of you” cards, birthday cards, “Thank-You” cards, “Just because I felt like it…” cards. Even if it’s only a post card, I like to instill in people, the fact that they touched me somewhere on this road called “life”. I don’t forget easily. I’m in a different situation AND I view life differently than most. MY cards go out with no expectation of hearing anything back. I know folks get busy. That’s NOT to say I don’t enjoy receiving as well as giving. I check my mail box daily during the holidays! AND, I have saved EVERY Christmas card I’ve received since Christmas of ’93.
Ann Landers wrote that it was okay to send Christmas cards right after Thanksgiving, but BEFORE New Years. I would argue with Ann, that sending your Christmas greetings AFTER Christmas, should also include a note, expressing “belated” wishes. Or something to the effect, “Sorry I missed Christmas, Happy New Year!”
I have some military friends living overseas. The guidelines in THAT area are very different. Cards and letters going First Class, need to mailed by December 11th for FPO and APO addressed mail. I’ve learned the hard way, some Muslim countries (such as Saudi Arabia where a very dear friend of mine was stationed) have laws against displaying Christian symbols. Keep that in mind when sending cards and letters to the Persian Gulf (Southwest Asia). You’ll not want to use envelopes with Christmas decorations on them as customs may refuse to allow them to enter the country. I’ve had several returned because of that… By the time I resent my Christmas greetings, it was St. Patricks Day!
Emily Post said, “Anytime after Thanksgiving is fine…” Martha Stewart wrote, “If you’re including an invitation to a holiday gathering, you need to allow two to three weeks to allow the recipient to plan ahead…”
I ALSO have some friends who do not celebrate Christmas at all. Whatever their reason is not important here. The fact is, I’ve had several approach me through the years, very politely and very tactfully, simply expressing the fact that, “We don’t celebrate Christmas.” I wasn’t insulted, and I DID ask if it was okay to still send some sort of card. For those folks, I still think it’s appropriate to send cards that offer up a message of “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy New Year” with no religious figures, messages or symbols. The ones I choose are appropriate for a wide range of friends and acquaintances. Sending seasonal greetings goes beyond any particular religious holiday, and it’s long been an accepted practice to wish one’s friends well at least once a year. It’s just a good opportunity to say hello!
Still, there is no substitute for a handwritten note. Doing it the old-fashioned way will emphasize to the recipient, the fact that one way or another, they touched your life, and you remember. No matter when you begin to celebrate, the holidays are a time when many people make an effort to stay in touch. Season’s greetings, family newsletters, cards, notes of thanks and appreciation flood mailboxes around the world! I’d say, “To heck with etiquette. Send your cards when you have them ready to send!” Mine are in the mail!
P.S. If you still want to receive a card from me, you need to e-mail your snail-mail address very soon. I heard on the news, the Postal Service is cutting back, and you DO want your card on time, don’t you?
MY ADDRESS IS: email@example.com with “send me a card” in the subject line to side-step the spam filter!!!