Holiday Cards

Santa in a Kayak

There is a long tradition of sending out holiday cards in my family. My mother initially took on the annual task, writing detailed descriptions on what each of her four girls had been up to over the prior year. These are the kind of letters that have (perhaps justifiably) been spoofed and ridiculed by many, but I treasure each one of those Christmas letters as public diary entries of what life was like growing up as one of the Marquis girls.

I started to send out my own holiday cards the year I graduated from college. I was living in Philadelphia then, trying on the new persona of being a professional at work and an adult at home. Purchasing, writing, addressing, and sending out cards seemed like a responsible way to handle ongoing communications with those I no longer saw or interacted with on a regular basis. I was thrilled anytime I received a card in return; it was so wonderful to find something other than bills in my December mail.

The tradition changed slightly once I had children, as I pivoted from paper cards to photos of my girls. I can remember the joy of capturing my kids in their early childhoods, playing in a leaf pile or sitting on the back steps of our house beaming at the camera. Eventually my husband and I joined the girls on our holiday cards, each picture a time capsule of where we were at that phase in our lives.

And then…the kids grew up, moved out, and I wondered if sending out holiday cards was worth the time, effort, and expense. It no longer seemed necessary, as our children had created families of their own and there were now many other ways to communicate with those who I had not seen over the past year. I tried to boycott the family tradition and flatly stated that I was no longer sending out cards. Bah humbug. My husband ignored my protest and purchased really cheap, ugly cards from a big box store and sent them out on his own. After all, he told me, there were people that mattered to him who he wanted to stay in touch with, even if it was only once a year through a scribbled message on a mass-produced card.

And the cards kept coming. Every day in December I looked forward to seeing what was in that day’s delivery, hoping to receive something that felt personal rather than commercial junk mail. Every card I received seemed like a moment of connection, however brief, with people who had been in my life for years. I enjoyed seeing the family photos, I enjoyed reading the handwritten messages, and most of all, I loved seeing the kinds of holiday letters my mother wrote so long ago.

I got excited about the idea of designing and creating my own holiday cards. I began thinking outside of the boxed greeting cards sold in stores and opened my imagination to put a holiday spin on the world around me. I saw tugboats every day in the Baltimore harbor; what would it look like if my favorite tugboat joined the Lighted Boat Parade? Kayakers frequent the same harbor throughout the summer months. What if Santa decided to stuff himself into the narrow opening of a kayak?

I now have nine cards as part of my “Winter” collection on CLA Creative, each one with a different take on the holiday season. I hope you enjoy looking through the cards, and will perhaps decide to send some yourself to those who are on your mind and in your heart at this time of year. With these cards, the words are up to you to write, with or without a printed Christmas letter.

Happy Holidays!

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