Thursday, December 2, 2010

as green as I could go, or "Where did baby Alex's nose get to?"

I love Christmas cards. When I was a little girl we would tape each card we received to the stairs, so that they were hanging over the piano and were easy to see from the entire living room. My grandmother used to hang her cards from the polished wood door frame between the living room and the dining room- a beautiful large entryway covered with colorful holiday greetings. My husband's family never displayed their cards in this way, which explains the weird looks and protests I received our first year together when I hung our cards from the wide wood entryway between our dining room and living room in our old house in Cleveland, a la Grandma Evelyn. (Or Grandma Iguana, but that is a story for another day.)

Here in our current home I tape each card to the door to our garage, which is somewhat of a focal point in our downstairs. When the garage door fills up with holiday cheer I start in on the basement door, off the kitchen. I love to look at the pictures of smiling babies and family vacations, dogs in Santa hats, and home made cards. I am careful to tape the card to the door in just the right way; so it stays closed and stays on the door but yet so I can still open it enough to read the signature. I rearrange the cards on the door as new ones arrive, creating an intricate puzzle of jingle bells and snowmen. I really, really love my Christmas cards.

Brad and I used to go round and round about which cards to send each year. We would fight about this because he has bad taste and I am sane. Here's my thought process: unless you are going to help address the envelopes and write a cheery note inside the card then you get no vote in the selection of the card. A picture of Santa that looks like I travelled back to 1972 to buy is not what I am looking for in a Christmas card. (note to all 1970's Santa card senders: I LOVE LOVE LOVE your cards! They are so retro! Keep up the good work!)

We fought about those darned cards every year until I accidentally realized the joys of benadryl and the drugs amazing effect on my husband. He will hold my hand, sing to me, pet my hair as though I am the family dog, and agree to everything I say. Seriously, I realized this by accident. One happy accident...

So the big benadryl induced hazy holiday shopping trip resulted in me, and me alone, picking out that year's Christmas cards. Brad was there, at the store, he might have even been in the card aisle with me, but he certainly was not "present". Oh, those cards were so pretty that year...

The next year I considered raiding the medicine cabinet for the benadryl. Don't judge me. These cards are that important. I did not, however, drug my husband. I did, though, remind him that I had selected the cards the previous year and the world had not stopped spinning. He caved. Victory! And ever since then, I shop for our holiday cards, I address them, and I get them in the mail without my husband even looking at them. He has no clue what card we have sent out unless he happens to see one at a friend's or relatives home.

This year I spent a lot of time thinking about our cards. While I love getting the photo cards in the mail and I certainly would benefit from the ease of creating and ordering them, I prefer to send out a more traditional card. Simply a family preference. I love this world we live in where I can contact friends via facebook, email, and text. I enjoy the ease of these types of contacts as well as the trees these correspondences save. But can I let go of my Christmas cards in lieu of a greener greeting? I love the whole Christmas card process. Checking out the cards in the stores for a few weeks before finally making my purchase. Snuggling on the sofa with my hot coffee in my favorite Christmas mug, Matthew's sleepy breathing noises shouting at us from the baby monitor, addressing envelopes and signing each card, thinking about the family or friend who will receive it. And yes, I did say the baby monitor would be shouting at us. I have it turned up really high so that I can hear every noise my little guy makes. That's right, I am one of those moms. I finally decided he was old enough to turn it down and was loving our new, quieter, evenings when his asthma kicked back into high gear, prompting me to crank the monitor back up. Along with the higher noise level comes a myriad of questions to my husband as I attempt to dissect each breathy sound. Really makes for a special night with my husband...

I couldn't do it. I wanted to go green but I just couldn't let go of this tradition I enjoy so much. So I did the next best thing; I went as green as I could go without losing the paper card completely. If you have not yet purchased your holiday cards here are some eco-friendly options for you:

SnapFish – Choose Snapfish’s premium holiday cards by Paper Culture. They have a cool Cards to Trees promotion--with every order, Snapfish will plant a tree in your honor. Their 100% post-consumer recycled and FSC-certified cards and envelopes are produced with wind power, which I think is uber cool.

Tiny Prints – I love Tiny Prints! We have used their service before, and I love the cards. All of their products and packaging feature either FSC-certified or post-consumer recycled paper.

Night Owl Paper Goods. – These super cool, folksy cards are printed on eco-friendly, sustainably-harvested birch wood. They also do photo cards.

My Good Greetings – All holiday photo cards are printed on 100% recycled, FSC-certified matte card stock. They have a wide selection of cards.

And when the holidays are over? Instead of throwing away all those paper cards glue them to cardboard (from cereal or shoe boxes), and create puzzles. "Where did baby Alex's nose get to?" and "Who has Max the Dog's tail?" make great puzzle time conversations.

Side note: we received our first Christmas card earlier this week. My sister is way ahead of the Christmas game, apparently. I mean, I just bought my cards today and she had already created, ordered, addressed and mailed hers. Some of the joy of opening her card was gone, however, seeing as I saw the card in person last Saturday when she left them on the seat of her car and I hitched a ride to our second annual Kirk family holiday bowling extravaganza. Still, though. It was our first card, and I love Christmas cards!

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