It’s All In the Cards

One of my favorite aspects of the Christmas season is the exchanging of cards among relatives, neighbors and friends.  In the pre-Facebook era—i.e. the olden days, when I was living the life of a military brat—the Christmas card kept our family connected to not only the relatives living the less nomadic life style, but all the friends we’d met along our travels.  The notes and letters included in the card sufficed for a more expensive phone call.  Occasionally, a photo or school picture might be included, but more often than not, the card only contained a hand written note.

Not so anymore.  Today, most of the holiday cards we receive at Chez Solheim are photo cards, digitally personalized by each sender.  And I love it!  The cards adorn a wreath card holder proudly hanging on the pantry door in my kitchen—an integral part of our Christmas décor.  And beware; if you send me a photo card, they all end up in the Christmas album for preservation.  I love going back to see how each child has grown, how many more gray hairs my brother has, what my former neighbor’s future-daughter-in-law looks like.

A year or two ago, I called a friend to tell her how beautiful her two children looked in her family’s card and she laughed.  “If you only knew what it took to get those two to be nice to one another for one minute while I snapped the picture,” she said.  Ah yes, making our kids look angelic for the purposes of a holiday greeting.  Who hasn’t experienced that joy?  Case in point:  Last year’s Christmas card that wasn’t.

Oh and the letters, I like them, too.  Katie Couric once railed on the holiday letter, calling them brag sheets, but I enjoy reading everyone’s synopsis of the past year, what the kids are up to, where they’ve traveled.  Okay, some of the trips you people take make me a little green with envy, but lately I’ve had to live vicariously.  Kid in college, you know.  And, if I’m being honest, the detailed medical stuff often gets skipped over.  As do the political views.  But, hey, keep those letters coming!

Our dog, Jetta, usually appears on our family holiday card with the exception of photos taken while we were in some exotic local (we did travel at one time).  The first year she wasn’t featured on the card, I had a little fun with our letter and had the dog pen it from her point of view—mostly indignant she’d been left out.  The next year, when I went back to the usual letter, I received lots of notes from family and friends disappointed the dog hadn’t written another one.  Seriously?  Guess I know where I stand in the family hierarchy.  Usually only folks we don’t see on a regular basis get the letter, so when we moved from Maryland to Georgia, family and friends here in Atlanta no longer got Jetta’s Howliday greetings.  They complained!    So, the dog now does the honors each year.  She’s eleven, nearly deaf, and very crotchety but, hey, if that’s what the people want.

I got an email from a friend last week who was verifying her email list because she is now going to send her Christmas card electronically.  Really?  That’s not a card.  It’s a message.  I can’t put it on the wreath or in the photo album.  Okay, yeah, I can print it out, but it’s just not the same.  Guess it’s just another sign of the times.

What do you think?  Do you like receiving Christmas cards?  Do you send them?  Or, do you just think they are too much work?


About Tracy Solheim

Best-selling author of the Out of Bounds series--sexy, contemporary sports romance novels. See what she's up to at

Posted on December 9, 2011, in Blog Posts. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I love receiving photo cards and watching the kiddos grow through the years, etc. But some of the letters make me want to gag, truly. The ones done with taste and humor that update me on the many happenings with friends and relatives bring a smile. But telling me how smart the kids are and how big the house is with complete transparency of Joe’s big-and I mean huge–raise thrown in are a cry for attention. Even if it’s all true and your are SO BLESSED; really, find a better way to impress us.

    I love the idea of Jetta’s point of view, Tracy, and I know your style. I can’t wait to read it. I’d better get one!

    Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, everyone!

  2. I’m hoping to get Jetta’s letter, too! I LOVE the Christmas cards and display them where everyone can see. I’m trying to input the addresses in the computer this year hoping future years will be easier, but it’s slower going than hand writing them. I love the picture cards the most and I do love the letters even though I never get up the gumption to send one. Can’t believe how few shopping days are left!!!

  3. I like to receive Christmas cards. Although I enjoy the e-cards because they often are animated and have cool songs and stuff, I can’t hang it up on the wall to look out throughout the season. I rarely receive the long letters telling about what everyone has been doing for twelve months and those I have received in the past have been a little overboard on the telling. I enjoy them when they’re funny but they rarely are.
    I guess I miss the “old” days in a ton of ways but I won’t go on and on about THAT.
    I still believe in Santa!

  4. Oh girl, I am so bad. I love receiving cards and I display them, but every year it gets less and less because I never remember to send them out before it’s too late. So I guess I keep getting knocked off the mailing lists. LOL. I always want to send them. Always always…and I ADORE your Jetta’s Howladays idea. That is such a cute twist, and that’s the kind of letters I love to get. I get irritated with the bragging letters…and the lists of medical problems…but the fun ones I love to read.

    One day…I keep telling myself that I’ll get off my tush and do it again like I used to. One day… 🙂

  5. I can see you really love the “card” part of the holidays. Since I moved (and will again in the spring) I became laxed and didn’t send them. Email cards are only for a fast fix with cyber friends.

    The real deal is something I miss. It’s like the old habit of writing actual letters, there is something special about opening up that envelope and hearing from an old friend or family member.

    Jetta is beautiful and certainly a member of the family. You are so spot-on for including her messages 🙂

  6. Yes, the cards are work – just ask my husband about the 35 or so versions I made him look at on Shutterfly this year. I’m sure he’ll give you the same glazed over look he gave me. Taking the kids’ picture every year is a source of great stress, but, oh the memories we’d missI I believe I need the Jetta letter as well. I talk to YOU all the time – I would like to get her perspective on how things REALLY are at the Solheim house. 🙂

  7. I used to send out cards then stopped for several years because I didn’t have the time … or maybe it was the energy. Last year addressed, stamped and mailed out cards, shocking a lot of old friends who had dropped me off their list. 🙂

    And I love to receive photo cards and letters from my long distance friends. While I’ve never done it, I sure appreciate those who take the time to include me in their yearly update!

  8. I was just telling my kids this morning why we send Christmas cards: those far away want to see how you’ve grown, may perhaps pick up the phone for a quick little chat or at the very least, know someone is thinking of them. Sometimes, it’s the little things that bring the most joy during this Christmas season.

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