This year will be the last I’m sending out Christmas cards. Writing them is a chore for me, and, according to my friends, my threats to stop sending them have gone on for years. The simple reason I do send them is that I like to receive them.

It’s not like I’ll be abandoning my faithful friends and relatives, for we always keep in touch by phone or mail. E-cards won’t be an option, either, for when I am finally done with my holiday greetings, I am done!

My Grandmother Hawkins had difficulty writing out Christmas cards because of her rheumatoid arthritis. When asked by my mother why she kept doing so, her reply was, “If I don’t, people might think I’ve died.”

Not my reason.

I don’t have much news to relay, unlike some senders of chatty Christmas newsletters. One year my handwritten note stated: “Still single, still teaching and still at Jordan Marsh.”

My life doesn’t change a lot, except for my address, which fact some friends are quick to point out.


As the years have gone by, my family and friends have sent me updates on and pictures of their children and now their grandchildren. What I can send are pictures of my childhood dolls decked out in their holiday finery. Fifty-plus years later, but they haven’t aged at all.

Also, my list of recipients is dwindling because of my advancing age and theirs. I remember at one time my card list had 13 couples on it, and within 20 years half of the couples were divorced or widowed.

The first card I remember sending out en masse was mailed from Lewiston, where I was living in my first apartment. A black-and-white, Art Deco image of a stylized woman, it was probably my favorite, most memorable card. After that year, I have continued to try to find other unusual cards to send. The hunt has become harder, so I can’t even outdo myself any more.

But as much as I dislike sending them, I enjoy receiving them. During Christmas season, I arrive home from work and quickly check my mail. I especially like the cards with a note on them. But the number of cards I receive has lessened also.

I won’t part with a small collection I’ve saved for years: my friend Nancy’s from Aspen, Colorado; Fabio’s from Brazil; John Ackerman’s nature sketches; Jack McPhillips’ caricatures of his partying self; Skid Rowe’s card of his St. Bernard, Fred, and, of course, ones from my family. As I look over these cards every year, I can hear the person talking to me.

But nostalgia can go only so far if you have a small space, so I couldn’t save all my cards.

After asking “Cousin” Gladys if there was proper etiquette to announce one’s decision to discontinue mailing out Christmas cards, we both agreed there was none. I guess this essay in the paper will state my intentions publicly. But the question is: Will anyone really care?

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