When I was a younger adult, I didn’t send out holiday cards.
Hell, when I was a younger adult, I didn’t answer letters, return phone calls, or respond to email. A few years back I wrote a short story No Return Address (which Strange Horizons was kind enough to publish) which was essentially my apology to my mother for YEARS of not answering her phone calls.
But then I had kids. And I made a number of efforts to pick up my part of the two-way communication out of which relationships are born and maintained. And, for a number of years, I sent out holiday cards.
I sent out cards for the joy of it. I sent cards imagining the pleasure of the recipient when they discovered that someone had been thinking of them during this joyous, grey, complicated season of life, light, obligations, and old scars. I sent out cards because it made me happy to do so.
This year, thinking about sending out cards made me feel … tired. Pressured. I was trying to figure out when I would get cards, and when I would send them, and the word “ought” was showing up, and the word “disappointment,” and I realized that I was not going to send holiday cards this year.
The purpose of them is joy, and light, and reaching out in the spirit of friendship. The purpose of them is not slogging obligation. If I send them out one year with reluctance, it sort of poisons all the other times I do it.
After all, how are YOU, dear recipient, to know my intent? How are YOU to know whether I was smiling and thinking of you fondly, or whether I wished I could cut you off the list and couldn’t figure out how?
That’s just unkind, to both of us.
So I’m not sending them this year. Perhaps I will next year. Perhaps I will in February! Who knows?
But, if and when you DO receive a card from me, dear reader, you can be assured that it’s not out of guilt. It’s not out of obligation. You can open the card and smile in the certain knowledge that the card was written out of caring and joy, and in honor of the connection we share.
No lying with holiday cards. That’s my promise to you.
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