I don’t have that many holiday traditions. I don’t really care about the tree, and I leave my twinkly lights up year-round.
But my son and I do holiday cards together every dang year. We do them together on the good years (“One of us started karate, and one of us finished writing her book!”) and we do it together on the bad years (“Thanks to everyone who helped us this year. We couldn’t have made it without you.”). We do cards together every year because I think they’re a silly thing that’s oddly important. There are valuable life lessons I’m tryna teach a guy…
1. The value of keeping in touch
I want to raise my kiddo to understand that community matters, that keeping in touch matters, that the people in your life are worth making the effort to maintain connections with… even if you don’t see them all that often. (Maybe especially if you don’t see them that often. Extended community matters!)
Yeah, holiday cards are just a silly little piece of paper, but as we address the cards, we talk about all the people in our lives and what they mean to us. This is important for all kids, but it’s maybe a little extra important for an only child like my kiddo.
2. The joy of paper and mail
I grew up with penpals and loved it! I loved the adorable Sanrio stationery my Japanese penpal would send from Tokyo, and I loved the way my Belgian penpal wrote her numbers in that European way that’s not quite the same as we do in the US.
For Generation Z (or whatever we’re calling them these days), handwriting on paper is a novelty. I love picking out which pens we’re gonna use that year (we like Sharpies, and have them in a rainbow of colors, and different thicknesses). I love scheming with my kiddo about which colored envelopes to use. (After extensive discussion, we went for green this year.)
And then of course there’s designing the cards themselves. Last year we did cards from Walgreens (meh, but they worked!) but this year we upgraded to Minted and used their comic book inspired design, complete with little speech bubbles. We had a great time picking out which photos we wanted to use!
Amazing Comic Book Holiday Photo Cards
3. The value of not isolating
Since we do Holiday cards every single year, that means that we’ve done them on some years when life was falling apart, things were miserable, and honestly the last thing I wanted to do was be like “Hey from our family, where shit is a complete disaster and I’m barely functioning.”
But you know what? The hard years are the years when it’s the MOST important to model the value of reaching out and not isolating because life sucks.
Not to be gender essentialist here, but let’s be honest: many men aren’t raised to understand the emotional value of cultivating and developing their communities, and by the time they reach the catastrophes of midlife, it fucks them over… hard. Hard as in “killing them” hard. I want to raise a boy who understands that keeping in touch with people matters, and reaching out when you’re hurting matters even more.
PS: It’s not too late to get in on the holiday card life lessons!
There’s still puh-LENTY of time to do your holiday cards this year, and the folks at Minted are offering 15% off with the coupon code JOYFUL19 (it expires November 26, 2019!)
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