The Handwritten Holiday Card: A Tradition Worth Holding On To. Giveaway Ended, WINNERS Inside!

Happy to announce we got over 75 comments on this post and so were able to choose THREE winners. Scroll to the end of the post to find out who won!

Christmas Tree note card, from Kneen & Co:

The other day I was dismayed to read this article in the Chicago Tribune about the decline of holiday cards. From the article:

“While Christmas remains the holiday that sparks the most greeting card sales, fewer people send cards each year…

The outlook is particularly weak for teenagers and college students, who are accustomed to communicating in ways that are more immediate, more efficient and more cost-effective, said Pamela Danziger, president of Unity Marketing.

“Compared to these instant forms of communication, addressing a preprinted card and sending it via snail mail seems like an antiquated waste of time,” Danziger said.”

Such a news report would have set my mother–with whom I credit my rebellious-traditionalist-contrarian leanings–into a rant of epic proportions. I can clearly remember her making us kids sit down around the table several times a year to pen holiday letters, birthday greetings and thank-you notes, despite our groans and protests. It wasn’t enough for us to scribble our names on a card and send it off–there had to be an actual personal message with each letter. Maybe she just felt it was the polite, ‘right’ thing to do. Maybe she was trying to teach us a lesson: that a thing hard done is a thing worth doing. Either way, handwritten letters at Christmas and always, always thank-you notes were part of her motherly philosophy.

It’s not a philosophy I’ve always stuck with, I hate to admit. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve managed to get Christmas cards out the door in the last decade (and as far as getting them out in time for Christmas...well, maybe twice.) And while my intentions are good, our thank-you note track record is spotty at best.

But even though I’m one of the offenders, reading this article made me feel sad…and determined not to let the art of the hand-written Christmas card disappear entirely. Because to the traditionalist in me, Christmas cards aren’t really just about keeping in touch. They’re about taking a few minutes (more than a brief, unfocused and multi-tasked moment) to sit down and acknowledge the important people in your life–perhaps the ones you don’t see as often as you would like–by sending them something tangible, something special and outside of the everyday in the way a “Merry Christmas” wall posting or mass email simply can’t be.

A card can be held in the receiver’s hands, stuck on the fridge or displayed on the back of a door (even if it will, most likely, eventually be recycled.) It’s something that can’t be lost in a spam folder alongside scam mail from Nigerian princes or buried under messages about end-of-year budget meetings. Something displaying a unique display of your handwriting, whether it’s even and lovely or (like mine) sloppy and scrawly. Something that is a real-life snapshot of time, to be preserved, read twice or ten times, lingered over.

The holiday card is something I don’t want to let die away. So this year, I’ll be sitting down with an old-fashioned box of cards and a pen and scribbling–err, carefully penning– holiday greetings to a short list of friends and relatives I want to acknowledge a little more personally and permanently than an email or Facebook message will allow.

Maybe I won’t have it together enough to slip pictures of the kids into the cards, and it’s very possible some of the cards won’t make it to their destinations by December 24. As to whether I’ll repeat this year in and year out, I can only say: I’ll try. But in the spirit of learning to slow down and enjoy small rituals, I’m realizing that the Christmas card is one tradition I don’t intend to slip away under the guise of “we’re too busy.” After all, generations of card-senders before us had just as many hours in a day. Maybe what they understood–and what us modern folk seem to be forgetting–is that time-consuming rituals and traditions can give us more in satisfaction and connection than they take away in time and energy.

I don’t want you to feel guilty if you aren’t sending cards this year. If you can’t manage one more thing on your plate or are simply moving that activity aside to make room for others, I totally understand. But I hope we won’t all, as the ominous Tribune article suggests we might, write off holiday-card-writing and other slow and outdated traditions simply because technology seems to be making them obsolete. Because one thing thinking about the way I spend my time has shown me is that quicker and more efficient doesn’t always equal time better spent. Often the slower activities are the ones that bring me the most satisfaction and happiness. And I’m guessing my investing time in those activities brings other people happiness, too. (Let’s face it: if my 80-something-year-old Grandma hasn’t gotten on Facebook yet, chances are good it’s not going to happen. She still wants and deserves to be recognized–right?)

Do you persist in sending snail-mailed holiday cards or participate in some other “old-fashioned” and time-consuming–yet rewarding–holiday tradition? I’d love to hear about it. And since sending hand-written notes is an even bigger pleasure when they’re written on beautiful cards, The Printery, part of Chicago-based company Kneen & Co, will be giving away  two–possibly three–gorgeous sets of engraved, hand-beveled holiday notecards complete with tissue-lined envelopes, each with a value of $60.

  • One lucky reader will win a set of ten Christmas Tree notecards

  • One reader will win a set of ten Ice Skater notecards

  • And to encourage you to spread the word, if this post gets at least 75 comments, one more reader will win a set of ten Reindeer notecards!

Since it’s the holiday I’m offering FOUR different opportunities to enter the giveaway. Here’s how you can enter to win:

1) Leave a comment! You can say anything in the comment, but I’d especially love to hear what slow, outdated holiday traditions you’re embracing this year.

2) For an additional entry, check out Kneen & Co’s Facebook page and leave a comment letting me know you did!

3) Want another chance to win? Sure. Tweet, Facebook, Stumble, or blog about the contest. Or tell your great-aunt Bernice or your carpool buddy or the barista at your local coffee shop…whatever you want to do to spread the word! Just make sure to come back and leave an additional comment letting me know.

4) Here’s one more opportunity to enter! Subscribe to my feed, then leave me a comment letting me know.
The contest ends at 10 AM EST Thursday, December 16. Winners will be chosen at random and announced in this post. Winners will be also notified via email by 3:00 PM EST December 16. If winners send mailing addresses by noon on Friday, Dec. 17, their cards will be shipped that day. (Otherwise, your shipment may be delayed!)

Contest open to residents of continental U.S. and Canada.

Good luck and happy tradition-making!

Here’s the cut-and-paste of the winning comments, chosen at random by the plugin “And The Winner Is”

Congrats, winners! You should have heard from me by now asking for your mailing address. If not please shoot me an email at meaganfrancis at yahoo dot com. Thanks to everyone who entered!

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