As cynical as it may sound, I’m not an enormous fan of greeting cards. I don’t want to universally condemn them, because sometimes they can be very nice and people can write special little messages in them and so forth, but I am not a big fan of people doing nothing but writing “To X from, Y” in cards and then just using the mass produced synthetic emotional messages inside them to express what they’re feeling. I don’t really like this because if people have easy access to a card which expresses some form of emotion, they’ll just use that instead of articulating what they actually feel and think about others.
As an alternative to this, I quite like to write letters to my friends. I feel that this has its strengths for a lot of reasons. Firstly, it’s helpful for me to clear my thoughts and to identify just how important somebody is to me – this kind of exercise helps me to ensure that I don’t take people for granted. Secondly, people are much more likely to keep it than they would a card and the words within are much more likely to carry some weight than words which are duplicated across thousands of cards. Also if people haven’t seen or heard from me in a while, they’ll always have that letter to look back on as a firm reminder of my strong feelings for them. The only real downside is sometimes I forgot what I’ve written in past letters and worry that I might be repeating myself.
Writing letters is quite a pleasant experience for everyone involved, really. I always give out letters at Christmas and I am already starting to get excited as I think about what I will write for each person this year. Maybe you should write some letters for the people in your life this Christmas?