Christmas is still Christmas without cards

Last year I wrote close to 50 Christmas cards.

I’ve always written Christmas cards. Even in high school I remember writing cards for all my friends and teachers. I remember taking the bus home from school on Fridays and stopping at the mall to buy my holiday cards. In my uniform. Hopefully never with my saxophone. Are you getting an idea of just how cool a teenager I was? But just to clarify, even though I sound really dorky, I was buying cards to write to friends…so like, I had friends.

I just like sending Christmas cards. I usually have them all sent off at the beginning of December. And actually last year I was so prepared (and thrifty) that I bought all of my Christmas cards for this year on clearance during post-Christmas sales. I’ve had 50 something cards waiting in my closet all year.

And now I must confess to you that Christmas is just a week away and I have yet to mail a single card.

There’s been a lot going on lately, and I’ve been pretty zapped of energy. I’m talking I can’t make it through the day without almost or actually falling asleep at least once, zapped of energy. Very unlike me. Every time I try and do anything I feel like this snowman.



And so I just haven’t managed to write any Christmas cards this year.

At first this made me feel like a total Scrooge.

I have always loved Christmas, and I’ve always loved it in a loud way. I’ve always had a tendency to be a bit of a hard-core Christmas traditionalist. I’ve always loved the music, the movies, the lights and the decorations. And I’ve always loved doing the same things the same way year after year.

Once I got sick, Christmas started changing. Many of the traditions that defined the holidays for me were now out of reach. First I couldn’t drink the chocolate milk that only showed up in our house on Christmas and Easter. Then I couldn’t eat Christmas dinner. Holiday baking wore me out and made me feel sick…I was too tired to go and cut down the tree…I wasn’t up for going anywhere to look at lights…I had to miss out on family gatherings. And worst of all, when I did make it to family gatherings I was dismayed to realize that what had once been fun was now also overwhelming and exhausting and even a bit sad because another year later everyone had moved forward while I was still stuck in the same spot I had been stuck in the year before.

I started understanding why some people didn’t like the holidays, how the holidays could be stressful.

Stressed by this stress, I figured I just needed to love Christmas even louder. I held onto it, tightly, and I immersed myself in it as much as I could, relying on it to make the terrible stuff I was going through feel less terrible. I used it as a source of hope, telling myself every year that by next Christmas things would be better. I never let go of holiday traditions, even if they created stress in my life, and even if I knew I couldn’t actually make them happen. Letting go seemed like giving up.

Well, I’ve given up now. And my holidays are so much better because of it.

I know that Christmas will never be like it used to be, but that’s okay. I know that I won’t be able to do everything I want to do each year. That’s okay, too. I no longer have any expectations for Christmas to be perfect, or for Christmas to be any particular way at all.

I still love Christmas, but I love it quietly now. I focus on what’s right in front of me, the little things that bring me joy. Like the lights in my room, or the delightfully cheesy holiday movies, or my collection of tacky Christmas sweaters. I don’t expect myself to be able to do anything and that way anything I can do is a bonus. And I don’t try and do something just because I think I should, or just because I always have.

The traditions that define our holidays are supposed to bring joy and togetherness, not cause stress. When these traditions start taking away from our celebrations instead of adding to them, then maybe it’s time to rethink them, at least until the traditions once again become something we want to do, not something we feel we have to do.

That’s why I didn’t send any Christmas cards this year.

And you know what? Christmas is still Christmas, even without Christmas cards. Just like Christmas is still Christmas without baking five different kinds of cookies. Just like Christmas is still Christmas without chocolate milk, without any food at all for that matter.

Christmas can still be Christmas no matter how life’s circumstances may change things. As long as we let it.

So whether your Christmas is quiet or loud, peaceful or busy, or a little bit of everything, I hope that you let Christmas meet you wherever you are in your life right now. I hope that the holidays end up being whatever you need them to be this year.

And I hope that you find some joy.

From me and my family (of tacky…and tachy 😉 …Christmas sweaters) to you and yours, Merry Christmas.




11 thoughts on “Christmas is still Christmas without cards

  1. I love that ‘tachy’ sweater too! Very cool. Was it knitted by your good self or someone you know? When I got sick, the sending of cards was the first Christmas tradition to be scaled down because I didn’t have the energy and, not working any more, I didn’t have the income to afford the postage!

    I thought about why we send cards – to let people know we are thinking of them at Christmas. Instead of the physical challenge of having to sit up at the table and write with a pen, I chose to use my phone or laptop to send greetings from my bed whenever I felt able, whether the greetings were online messages, email, sms or, if the timing was right, a voice call. So in that way, I am still fulfilling the purpose of the Christmas Card greeting but in a modified way. Even though, the recipients didn’t get a pretty picture to decorate their home, I hope that the greetings decorated their hearts with love. Those people close to us, who realise the effort it takes, understand.

    One year I sent out no greetings at all because I was so sick, it was a struggle just to manage daily living and you know what? The world didn’t end. My friends and family are still there for me.

    I love Peggy’s comment above about 365. That’s how I roll nowadays – why leave all the greetings to Christmas when time and energy is limited? If I am thinking deeply about a friend or family member at any time of the year, I will make the effort to send either a quick message or arrange a phone call. It is so much better because people will have more time to truly share and it has enhanced my relationships throughout the year. It also means that by the time Christmas comes around again, people understand why I may not send a card but they also know that they are still important to me.

    I am so sorry that your fatigue is increasing and further limiting your activities, Catherine. That sucks. You have the right attitude about changing what works for you at Christmas and even if it means modifying or removing certain rituals, the essential meaning of Christmas remains the same. Wishing you a peaceful and happy Christmas, Catherine. xx

    • Agreed to it all, Jodie. It’s really just to let people know we are thinking about them, and they are other ways to do that! And also it can be done any day of the year 🙂

  2. I never cease to be inspired by your marvellous acceptance of things which you cannot change & your spirit which truly is what everyone should remember about Christmas…it is really 365 as a gift to us to live every moment in gratitude with what blessings we have…and believe it or not….we all have blessings. Thank you so much dear and my love and wishes to all your family.

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