Heartfelt Christmas Cards: A Reflection on Connecting Through Writing / a picture of a letter in a red envelope

Heartfelt Christmas Cards

Melissa Gosselin

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I don’t know about you, but it’s only the second week of December and I’m already starting to feel the Christmas rush. One thing in particular I’m thinking about is sending Christmas cards. Apparently (and I just learned this a few weeks ago) December 9th is Christmas Card Day. I’ve never been someone who has mailed out cards– that was always something my mom was in charge of. But ever since she passed away I’ve been thinking about how important receiving cards has been to me. 

It’s not just about the family photo-op or the matching Christmas pjs (although those do bring a smile to my face!). It’s about people taking the time to check in, to send well-wishes. It’s about keeping in touch, even if it’s been years since you’ve connected with someone in person. When life gets busy, it’s nice to know people are thinking of you. 

The Christmas cards I received last year made a huge impact on me. It was the first Christmas since my mom passed away and needless to say I wasn’t in the most festive mood. But every time I found a card in the mail I felt a rush of warmth throughout my body. Whether it was the joy of seeing photos of expanding families, babies growing into toddlers, new boyfriends and girlfriends... whether it was a handwritten life update or a little note acknowledging that Christmas would be difficult for me and my family that year... each card brought a little light to my home, life to my mantle. 

So what are some ways to send heartfelt messages this holiday season? I was cleaning the other day, and I found a book by Florence Isaacs called Just a Note to Say. In it, the author provides a practical guide to connect to our loved ones through our writing. Instead of a generic holiday greeting, Florence Isaacs suggests writing about a personal memory or including an old photograph in your Christmas card. (I myself have very much appreciated people sending me old photos– from childhood or past holidays we’ve spent together.) She also suggests commenting on milestones from the past year... like having a baby, moving into a new apartment, or getting married. I think those personal touches really do make a huge difference, even if it’s just one line. 

“Congratulations on the new addition! It’s been so beautiful to watch your family grow over the years. Merry Christmas!”

“I hope you’re enjoying Christmas in your new apartment– sending lots of love!” 

If you’re looking for a more poetic sentiment, focus on strong positive emotions around the holiday season. I personally love the five senses strategy. What can you see, feel, hear, touch or taste? What do you associate with this time of year? The warmth of a fire or a mug in your hands? The soft glow of Christmas lights?

“May you find refuge from the cold in the warmth of a fire, a hug, or in a meal made with love. Merry Christmas!” (Not my best, but you get the idea!) 

This is another suggestion from Florence Isaacs but I think it compliments what we do here at ButterTree & Biscuits— try reflecting on what’s truly important during the holidays. What does family mean to you? What are you most grateful for? What do you admire about the person you’re writing to? 

“It has been a privilege to watch you build a home– a refuge from the chaos, a safe space for you and your family to love each other. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!” 

I believe that cards in the mail don’t only bring the receiver joy, but the sender as well! It’s an opportunity to be creative, to practice gratitude, to reach people you may not have spoken to in a long time. So I say, even in the stress of the holiday season, take time to write a little note in the mail– you have no idea the impact it can have! Happy writing! 

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