Holiday cards. I remember my mom arranging all of those we used to receive onto of the sideboard in our dining room, pictures of round-cheek babies wearing Tartan skirts and brag letters with candy-cane borders slipping out every which way.
After I left home, I spent a few years hating on Christmas cards. The waste of paper and resources and time! The desperately cheerful tone of the saddest letters and the gratingly false humility of the most boastful. Why do a Christmas card?
Then, perhaps predictably, I got all married up and domesticated. I moved across the world to China. I became lonesome for my cozy group of friends and family back home.
And I started jonesing for a Christmas card of my own, badly.
Skype and email is great, but sometimes what you really crave to give is a piece of 30% post-consumer recycled paper with crappy penmanship and some snowmen on it.
So I visited my good friend Etsy. Etsy is in fine form this holiday season with something like a bajillion and seventy-four holiday cards for sale in all shapes, sizes, colors and persuasions. I know. I’ve spent hours looking.
Do you want penguins? snowman? funky owls decorating trees? Merry Christmas? Happy Hanukah? Merry Everything? Do you prefer poetic or irreverent? Traditional color schemes or something a bit more modern? Whatever it is that you want, they have it. And it’s beautiful, and probably already bookmarked as a favorite by me.
The strange thing was though, as I scrolled through all of these more than serviceable pieces of craftsmanship, I felt a rising tide of discontentment. With each one, there was always just one little detail that I didn’t like, or maybe the price was just way too high for me. And then, even when they were perfect, I still couldn’t hit “buy.”
And then I realized, after wayyy too many hours of this senseless behavior, the problem was that I didn’t want to just buy a card, I wanted to put some soul into it for the people I care about. I wanted that card to stand in for me and Chris not being there to celebrate with our friends and family ourselves.
So I decided the only way to get the satisfaction I craved, was to do it myself (oh dear).
So, I did. Armed with a pen, a few water colors, and a night with the hubs out of town, I sat at the kitchen table and channeled my holiday muses. I focused deeply on the pressure of every pen stroke, the curve of every brush movement. It made for an intensely satisfying and gloriously fun couple of hours. For me to focus that quietly for that long without words was refreshing and quieting in a way that I just didn’t expect.
And when I was done, I had what you see at the top of this post.
It’s really not good, its really not well done, and I’d like to put out the disclaimer now that no, we did not adopt a 3 year old to draw our holiday card. If we had, it would probably look nicer. But really, I don’t care. And I don’t think the people who receive it will either.
In spite of the wobbly paint job, it was an immensely fun project. I waited patiently for the paper to dry (I took a blow-dryer to it) and then scanned it onto our computer and plopped it into a word document where I’ve been fuddling with it every since, changing up the holiday greetings and coming up with snarky personalized quips.
And see, that’s the best part! Since its my card on my computer, it can say whatever I want and it can change for each person. Some people might get “Happy Holidays” but some people might get inappropriate jokes about penguins. I just have to be careful about which card goes into which envelope.
All that’s left to do now is to find some quality paper to print them on. Oh and tracking down addresses. And hoping that my cards get there closer to Christmas than Valentine’s Day.
Anyways, I never thought I’d recommend a craft project on this blog but if you keep your expectations low (if you have my artistic abilities, keep them REALLY low) it ends up being wayyy more satisfying a project than you might think.
And what it lacks in artistic quality, I think it more than makes up for in fun (or quirkiness) and the ability to personalize. If you have a scanner in your printer at home, its also a super, super easy project-and potentially cheaper than store-bought cards.
Especially if you already have people’s addresses and don’t live half-way across the world. Got to get to work on that one…