Every year, over a billion holiday cards are put through the mail. According to a USPS study, in the 2018 fiscal year alone, about 1.3 billion holiday cards were mailed, a number that’s held fairly steady for years now. I’ve sent holiday cards out for years, and this year more than ever, I can’t wait to put my cards in the mail and send them all over the world. And you should too.
I started sending Christmas cards when I first moved away to college and began creating friendships with people in faraway places. My holiday cards were a way to stay connected with family and friends I’d left behind and let my new friends know I cared. This was also around the time when I started forging friendships with people on the internet. At the time (this would have been in the late aughts, before 2010), internet friendships weren’t nearly as popular as they are now. It was the early days of Twitter, and several of my friendships were born in Yahoo Groups. Remember those? They helped me meet people all over the country with a common interest — in our case it was O-Town (no shame).
This year I’m thinking of my holiday cards like little hugs that I’m sending around the world, since I can’t actually give those hugs out.
As the internet grew and I continued to move around the country, my list of Christmas cards kept getting longer. I moved into the world of Twitter and found my people: One Direction fans (definitely no shame). Very quickly, I made friends from every corner of the world, knowing I would probably never meet most of them in person. Sending holiday cards around the world became something I looked forward to every year — especially because I got so many in return from other countries, other states, and cities I’d never been to.
My holiday card project got more ambitious each year and for several years I crafted my own cards at home with all my scrapbooking supplies. I’d write my own cute holiday wishes inside and send them off. As I’ve gotten older and grown busier, I’ve taken to making custom-printed cards online, but I still mail them out every year to all my friends around the world to let them know that no matter what, I’m thinking of them during the holiday season.
This year more than ever, I’ll be excited to send around my cards. It’s been a hard year, especially with COVID-19, and I haven’t seen any of my friends or family for months. In a time when all I’ve been able to do is talk to my loved ones through a screen, I’ll be happy to send them something I’ve held in my hands and written a personal note on. All of my plans for the year have been canceled — vacations, concerts, everything — so all of those people I planned to see will get a holiday card instead so they know how much I’ve missed them.
In addition to sending little pieces of my heart to my favorite people, sending holiday cards in the mail versus emailing something is more important now than ever. The USPS has been struggling financially for quite some time, and with President Donald Trump recently refusing to properly fund the USPS, any little bit will help the organization stay afloat. That means buying stamps, so send as many holiday cards as you can.
It’s not been like any other year in my life this year, and I’ve been missing out on human connection. Talking to my friends through a screen frankly sucks, but at least I know if I send them a card through the mail, they’ll know I chose it with care and put a lot of love into the envelope with it. This year I’m thinking of my holiday cards like little hugs that I’m sending around the world, since I can’t actually give those hugs out. Hopefully someday soon I can hug them for real, but for now, the cards (and probably a few extra stamps) will do.