From The Confessional: Our Love-Hate Relationship With Holiday Cards

From The Confessional: We Have A Love-Hate Relationship With Holiday Cards

CasarsaGuru/Getty

If you really hate the holiday card thing—whether than means you flatly refuse to do them and toss most of the ones you receive directly in the trash… or you make your family pose for fake-ass pictures to create the illusion that you have your shit together but you resent the entire process and your spouse bitches about how much stamps cost… this post is for you. Because for many of us, holiday cards provide yet another annoying stress during an overwhelming and ridiculously expensive time of year.

And yet, even though we know that lots of people hate holiday cards, we force our kids into matching flannels anyway, bribe them with candy to smile, and send off these forced family pics to relatives we rarely see or talk to. All for what? So others can think our lives are perfect? (Newsflash, Mary Ellen. I think they already know the truth.)

Or, some of us send out cards, but they’re of the more “authentic” variety—pics of tantruming, half-naked toddlers covered in mud, make-up free mom selfies, and messy houses. Because that’s what 2020 really was like. “Happy freaking holidays,” the caption might read. “Please, for love let these kids go back to school in 2021 and let Mommy take a vacation.” No? Just ours?

Confessional #25810079

“I don’t send out Christmas cards .... not one person gives a shit what your fucking family is up to. I’ll send a gift or nothing at all.”

Confessional #1522299

“Maybe one day people will realize that no one wants Christmas cards with your family photos on them. I hate getting those. I just want to mail them back. Their kids aren't as attractive as they think.”

Confessional #1762016

“I judge everyone's christmas card photo choices.”

Confessional #1675288

“I hate those picture Christmas cards. Unless you're a relative or close friend, I don't need a picture of you and your kids, kissing the dolphins you swam with in Cancun last summer. Seems like bragging to me.”

The cold, hard, truth is this—a lot of the people you send those expensive cards to give zero fucks and throw them directly in the trash. Think about that next time you spend hundreds of dollars on new boots and snowflake sweaters for that “happy family photo” next year.

Confessional #2079953

“The only smiling picture I got of DD1.5 by the Christmas tree was when she was holding the iPad. So I photoshopped a cartoon present into her hands and sent it out as our Christmas card.”

Confessional #1661563

“I put a ridiculous degree of importance in getting the “perfect” Christmas cards to send out every year.”

Confessional #1599359

“I send out the cutest family picture christmas cards and make the whole family matching pj's. I really don't know why I even try when it's all bs. The truth is me and my husband can't even stand each other.”

Confessional #1679649

“Except for the names, everything in the newsletter I sent out with Christmas cards this year was completely made up.”

Confessional #1596926

“I send out very nice Christmas cards every year but I fucking hate Christmas. I just do it to look like an awesome regular Martha Stewart housewife in front of my family and his. One year I'm going to sign them, Xmas Sucks.”

And yet, even though we know how few of our family and friends truly appreciate our efforts, we still strive to create the perfect card. Even if it means we are fighting with our spouse, the kids are crying, and the entire thing is a lie.

Confessional #25810015

“I try, but I'm so overloaded during the holidays that people usually don't receive my Christmas cards until after Christmas.”

Confessional #8492179

“Christmas cards give me anxiety. When I receive one, then I feel like I have to give one in return, and I just don't get the whole point of it!”

Confessional #8398798

“I am not usually an anxious person but writing cards gives me anxiety. What if what I write is lame? Misspelled? It makes me write poorly and miss write everything. Total self fulfilling prophesy. Bring on the Christmas cards, I need to feel worse.”

For many of us, the whole holiday card thing just brings on extra anxiety. And no one needs that. We’ve already got gingerbread houses to build, cookies to make, presents to wrap, and a damn elf to move.

Confessional #2603396

“We've been in our new house for 3 1/2 years. This Christmas the people who lived here before us got more Christmas cards than we did.”

Confessional #1679769

“I thought I had lots of friends...until I moved to a small town and everyone forgot about me. Recieved one Christmas card, total, this year.”

Confessional #1677598

“We have only received one Christmas card this year, and we sent 30. I feel so alone and forgotten.”

Confessional #2579533

“I still have my Christmas cards out because they make me feel like I have friends ... haven't talked to most of those people in years ... pathetic ...”

Confessional #2153705

“Used to love the holidays; not so much anymore. It's a constant reminder I'm divorced & childless. I resent Christmas cards featuring cute kids, engagement ring commercials, and Facebook photos of everyone's professionally decorated "grown-up" houses.”

And frankly, the holiday card tradition simply makes many of us feel lonely. We know there are homes out there with overflowing mailboxes every day, full of cards from endless lists of family and friends. And we are lucky if we get one or two. There’s nothing worse than being reminded over and over that you’re alone on Christmas.

Confessional #1597994

“I just got a Christmas card from Dominos. I think we ordered too much pizza this year! ....”

Confessional #1763044

“My only Christmas card was from my divorce lawyer”

Confessional #25807122

“My kids are making cards for family we can't see because of COVID. My youngest made one that says "Happy Waiting" and I think that should be the new way we greet each other.”

For better or worse, whatever cards you do send (or get in return) will remind you of the year you’ve had. This year, cards might feature lots of masks and tug on your heart strings as you miss loved ones. Or, you might be reminded of the obscene amount of takeout you ordered throughout this pandemic. We hope as you look back, however, there are some glimmers of hope and at least a few joyful memories because this year definitely put a lot of us through the wringer.

Love them or hate them, the holiday card industry is booming and not likely going away any time soon. No one should judge you if you forego this tradition and tell everyone to catch your family snaps on social media. Or, if you send out an annual 3-page family newsletter. Do what works for you, but don’t stress about making it perfect, because the ones who love you the most know the truth—whether you really do have your shit together or you’re an absolute disaster every hour of the day. But they love you just the same.