In late 2007, I had already passed the One Year Milestone of blogging (oh, how things were different! Before Facebook!), and I was what you might call a bit of a comment whore. Memes that tagged other bloggers were the norm. We participated in activities like "Show Me Your Wedding Ring" and "Liar Liar" posts. At that time, I started the Holiday Card Exchange. The concept was simple: those who read my blog would email their address and I in turn, would mail them a holiday card. If the recipient wished to send one back, then the circle was complete!
Over the next few years, I’ve continued the tradition, and while I didn’t post about it on my blog in 2011, I set up the event via Facebook because as far as I aware, I was connected there with anyone who was still reading here. However, I felt guilty for not mentioning it because it felt like I had broke that tradition.
This year will be the Sixth Annual Holiday Card Exchange, and I’ve already been pestering my poor friends on Facebook about it since right after Thanksgiving. It’s was matter of equal opportunity that I pester you here, but expand on why.
While the concept of the exchange has not changed, it has become just a little more than just being an Attention Whore (despite what you may believe). As we increase our social networking interactions, the personal interactions have dwindled. Personally, I am not a phone-talker nor a letter-writer. I’m not anti-social: I’m Interpersonal-Skills Challenged (ISC) as I feel utterly awkward in face-to-face situations. Thanksgiving Supper was at the in-laws’ house, and I chose to sit and play with my four-year-old in the den by ourselves than sit at the kitchen counter with the adults while they hashed out the election results, or gossiped about the neighbor’s affair, or traded cooking and baking secrets. On-line interaction may make me feel less awkward, but it also is less substantial in a particular way.
That brings me back to the exchange. To me, it does have substance, even if it is wholly physical and not intellectual. I get excited that the envelopes that come with our names on them don’t have a vellum window that crinkles with the slightest touch. I like seeing the variations of stamps, even if it’s the default Forever stamp with the flag. But what tickles me the most is of course what’s inside because even that has changed so much since the first year I hosted the exchange. Boxed cards have been replaced on the whole with photo-postcards, and it’s that moment – which is usually the only moment in a year – that I will have that visceral contact with someone I have never met in person; someone who I may never meet in person. They touched that card, and now I am touching it. That is real. That is the exchange.
Sending out cards can be a hassle. It’s not that it takes more time, but as we continue to evolve more and more to a digital age, which actually means doing other things much more efficiently, the time we save fills up with other things that we think take priority, especially if it means doing it electronically as well. Basically, we save time to only squander it on more to-do lists and extra responsibilities instead of on ourselves. For me, I love the process, the feel, of that card in my hand that may take a few seconds to either complete and put into the envelope or to arrange on the wall for my family to enjoy until I take them down with the passing of the Old Year.
I totally understand and appreciate those who cannot participate in the card exchange, either now or in the future. I do hope that you have something that encourages you to slow down, to touch, to feel when everything else seems to be whizzing by pixel by pixel, byte by byte. That’s what the Card Exchange is for me.
P.S. If you wish to participate in this year’s exchange, you can email your address to me at thismamasaid (at) gmail (dot) com.