Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Why I still mail Christmas cards December 15, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Christmas cards land in my mailbox from Minnesota and across the country. (Minnesota Prairie Roots edited and copyrighted photo December 2022)

I NEARLY DIDN’T MAIL Christmas cards this year. Not that I didn’t want to send holiday greetings to family and friends. But the cost of cards and postage stamps caused me to pause and seriously consider. If I only mailed two dozen or so cards, this wouldn’t even be a concern. But I send more than 80, maybe even close to 100. I’m not counting. The expenses add up.

When I purchased $60 in postage stamps recently, the postal clerk thanked me for supporting the post office. I shared that my second daughter is a US mail carrier who works incredibly long hours six days a week delivering mail in Madison, Wisconsin. I hold a new appreciation for these hardworking postal employees like my daughter. She walks 10-12 miles a day on her route, starting in the dark of morning and ending in the dark of mid-evening. I figure we all owe these postal workers some grace, especially during the busy holiday season.

But back to those Christmas cards. The actual cards were another reason I nearly scrapped mailing holiday greetings this year. I couldn’t find any at a reasonable price. Like everything else, the cost of cards has skyrocketed from the usual $3 I pay for 24 cards to $6 – $8 for half as many. Eventually I found some discounted at a Big Box retailer, but still at a higher price than I liked.

The thing is, sending and receiving cards is one of my biggest holiday joys. I love reconnecting with people from my past (college roommates, co-workers, extended family, etc) and staying connected to those who are still very much a part of my life. I love opening envelopes to find family photos, cards and letters. I don’t even care any more if the letters are mass-produced. At least I’m getting updates. Occasionally a handwritten letter arrives, rare treasures in today’s world.

Even I send a photo-copied letter, confined to half a page. It’s not that I don’t have more to write. I do. But, again, I’m thinking cost. Ink is expensive. I also realize people are busy and don’t necessarily want to read a two-page recap of 2022. So I hit the highlights in an edited version of my life.

It’s always interesting to see what others write in their holiday letters. I like humor and storytelling. I dislike lengthy lists of accomplishments and travelogues that go on and on. I begin to feel like my life is rather boring and unaccomplished when I read such scripts. That said, it’s OK to include both, just in a balanced way.

All my Christmas cards are in the mail. I finished this holiday task in a full card signing, letter folding, address writing, postage stamp sticking, envelope licking blitz over the weekend. And now I wait for my mailbox to fill with holiday greetings, one of my greatest joys of the season.

TELL ME: Do you mail Christmas cards/letters/photos? Why or why not?

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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35 Responses to “Why I still mail Christmas cards”

  1. beth Says:

    I so understand this. I still send cards as well, and feel the same way about them

  2. We still send out paper Christmas greetings – sometimes a 1 or 2 page letter, sometimes just a 4×6 note. But only about 25, not 100 like you. 😉 It just seems like a more tangible way of celebrating the season. And it’s also a good way to make sure everyone’s mailing address is are up to date. 😊

  3. There is nothing better this time of the year than receiving a card. I still hand out as well as mail a few (do not do my normal 30 to 50 in years past). I do find bargains on boxes of cards usually the last week in December when out and about and usually will buy a box or two. I still have thank you cards from my wedding that I am still using and got for a bargain price. The cashier stated they wanted to move inventory so instead of $3.99 a pack got them for $1.99 a pack – SCORE! especially when planning a wedding and all that goes with that. Happy Spreading the Joy, Cheer & Merry – Enjoy 🙂

    • It sounds like you’ve scored some good deals on cards. I have yet to find any late December bargains. I suppose it would help if I actually looked. Shopping is not something I enjoy. Anyway, good for you to continue giving and sending cards in a thrifty way.

  4. I love Christmas cards too, but you’re right, it’s too expensive. I don’t send out very many.

  5. Ida Fetterer Says:

    Yes, I do mail Christmas cards, and I will this year, but I had to cut back because of the cost of postage. I thought when I picked up my Christmas cards at a good deal and opened the box, here the envelope said extra postage required. So I took one to the post office and they said, yes, 24 more cents per card I send out. So much for thinking I had a good deal on beautiful cards. I will send a Christmas Greeting on Face Book to Family and Friends that are on Face Book along with a Photo of my husband and myself. The rest of my Christmas list will be getting cards in the mail but again, the cost is eating me alive as I sent out so many.

    • It’s easy to make a “mistake” like that. I thought I found a deal on cards and then, upon checking them out, saw the cards were $1 each rather than $1 for the package of ten. Nope, I didn’t buy them. I bet your family and friends appreciate your cards and online greetings.

  6. Mary Taylir Says:

    I debated about sending cards for all the same reasons as you. In the end I, too, am sending them because Christmas is the only time I connect with many of those people and they are important to me. It’s a “labor “ of love. ❤️ I also enjoy sharing the good news that the Savior has come and there can be joy in our world!

  7. Bernadette Arlene Thomasy Says:

    My thoughts exactly. The Christmas card tradition is one of my favorite parts of the holiday. The connections, updates, bringing back memories of friends/family are priceless. My husband and I compete to see who gets to the mailbox first to pull out the cards.

    • Oh, Bernadette, I can just see the two of you racing to your mailbox. I, too, delight in a mailbox stash of cards, rather than bills. Maybe it’s the writer in us that makes card giving and receiving a favorite part of our holiday.

      • Bernadette Hondl Thomasy Says:

        At our age we don’t exactly race, but he keeps his coat and hat by the door and watches for the letter carrier; he wins most of the time. Agree, the writer/reporter in us is always looking for news. Enjoy your cards!

      • Laughing. Maybe he shares the cards once he retrieves them? Definitely that reporter side emerging.

  8. Mick and I debated whether to send cards this year for reasons beyond the cost. What we talked about was whether they were still appreciated or desired in a hyperconnected world where we already see so much news about each other on social media. We ended up culling our mailing list to people we were closest to, people who might actually enjoy opening envelopes and slowing down to read something handwritten. We stopped sending cards to people we never see or hear from any other time of year, people who send cards without any personal notes whatsoever. Getting a photo is nice, but when there’s not even a signature on it, I feel the sender has spent zero time thinking about who they’re sending their greetings to and have treated it like just another task to finish. There is a select audience for greeting cards, thank you notes, letters; that audience isn’t very big in our world anymore. But for those who do appreciate these things, it’s a beautiful tradition.

    • Your reasons are all valid for reducing the number of cards you send. My only “rule” is that, if I don’t get a card in return after sending one for several years, that person gets dropped from my list. I appreciate hand-signed also, but am happy to hear from folks even in unsigned versions and if only once a year. Whatever works, whatever you feel right doing or not doing, that’s a personal decision.

  9. Neil Says:

    We have a long-established tradition of opening the cards received that day at dinnertime and read them out loud while eating dinner. That way, we all get the updates at the same time. If one (or more) wants to review them again later, they can always do that.

    After dinner, the cards are hung on a festive string that we hang over the doorway between the kitchen and living room. That way, we are reminded of all the caring family and friends that God has blessed us with, plus we are more likely to look at them more than once.

    In recent years, I’ve noticed that some will send only a letter without a card. I like this idea. Saves money and trees. The cards themselves pretty much all say the same thing anyway. When there’s no letter, even if it’s a few brief lines, it’s a bit of a disappointment.

    It was ironic that when my wife began our annual missive this year, the first sentence noted that there was little newsworthy to write about this year. She then proceeded to type out a page-long letter!

    • Neil, I like that tradition of reading the letters aloud at dinner time. But I’d never be able to wait that long. I have to remind your brother to look at the cards and letters. He simply forgets once he’s put his feet up for the evening after a long day of work. I’m laughing at Jamie’s “little newsworthy” start to your holiday letter that then becomes a page long. I wish our year had been uneventful. I look forward to receiving your update.

  10. Rose Says:

    We send Christmas cards every year. Our list is about 80 loved ones long. We send a simple picture card of our lovely faces – some years we take a photo while on vacation, this year it was on our front porch. I hope people love the cards. I know I love receiving Christmas cards. As I address each envelope, and drop the cards off at the post office – I say special prayers and wishes for each person. I don’t know if the receivers know this, but I hope they feel the love when they open the envelope. I hang all the cards I receive on a special spot on the hall wall, that is decorated with gift wrapping. And I leave those cards up all year. They are my Happy Place. 😀💝

  11. COLLEEN HONDL GENGLER Says:

    Christmas cards are a priority for me. I love connecting with people especially those I don’t see frequently over the year. I limit the letter to one page. I try to give some sense of what our day to day life is but also some travel or other highlights. But I agree on balance and not too much detail. I write the letter and let it “sit” for awhile going back to edit a couple of times. Plus, my better half must read and proof (actually approve!) it. Then, I’ll add a short handwritten note. I’m glad for whatever I get in return.

  12. Valerie Says:

    It’s interesting reading all the comments here.
    We still send some photo cards, but have reduced the number of cards we send.

  13. Beth Ann Says:

    Received mine and saving to read them all in a quiet moment with a cup of tea so I can enjoy it! Ours will wait until January with the hopes of getting some fun pics taken to include. 😊

  14. lspanbauer Says:

    I e-mail my Christmas letter to those I have e-mail addresses for. I still mail a lot of cards. I buy them right after Christmas for half price or less. I agree with what you say about the long bragging type letters. I appreciate a little humor and also friends sharing a less than perfect life.

  15. I use to send cards, photo cards, those written letters. Then when I moved The overseas postage killed the card sending. We send cards only to relatives here in NL now and the Hubby and I think that is a huge waste of time, money, and paper for something that just get thrown in the trash. Anyway, the internet has killed the personal way of reaching and really connecting with people. Happy someone is keeping it a tradition.


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