Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

December 5, 2013

A problem with Christmas cards

Carrie Stambaugh
The Independent

ASHLAND — There are 19 days left until Christmas and I haven’t sent out a single card yet.

This isn’t highly unusual considering I’m a well-documented procrastinator. This year, though it might just not happen.

Normally at this time of year, piles of custom designed cards are sitting in stacks around my house waiting to be sent to scores of relatives and friends. I spend many nights listening to the evening news shows while personalized notes and addressing cards to dozens of old friends and family members who live all around the world.

For many years I’ve been perfecting my technique to become more efficient, thus saving time for other seasonal tasks, like baking cookies! This year, I was ahead of schedule.

I had my cards designed by mid-October and had been extra good about updating my address list throughout the year.  I was in great shape heading down the stretch to December but I stalled out just before ordering my cards.

I just couldn’t shake a nagging anxiety about how my time-consuming gesture of goodwill might be erroneously received. I began to question if it was worth the effort, an issue I haven’t quite resolved yet.

Let me explain, a few years ago I failed to spot my contribution on a card-laden refrigerator of relative. I inquired if she had received my card and she replied that indeed she had.

Then she told me that because it did not bear the phrase Merry Christmas she threw it away. My card, bearing photos from another a year in the life of the Stambaugh’s, wished her “a joyous holiday season and an adventurous, happy New Year” instead.  That I soon learned was simply unacceptable.

I was one of those people who are taking Christ out of Christmas, she told me.

I was a little bit flabbergasted that I had stumbled unintentionally smack dab onto the front lines of the so-called “War on Christmas.”

As a Christian, I celebrate Christmas. But I also have many, many friends and loved ones who do not. They instead have other beliefs, and I respect them.

These are people with whom my husband and I have shared experiences with during our lives and we want to stay connected too. That is why I choose once a year to reach out to all of them with a broad message of love and friendship at Christmas.

For many it may be the only thing they hear from me all year long. My intention certainly isn’t to offend them.

So last year, I designed two separate cards one with an “acceptable” Merry Christmas message and another bearing the same I’d sent in the past. Then I separated my loved ones into two categories, and sent out my cards accordingly.

I have regretted it ever since. The problem is, this year I just haven’t decided whether continuing to send out cards is the best way to share the love in my heart at Christmas.