What makes a Christmas card a Christmas card?

Since about 10 days before Thanksgiving, our festive household has received a regular collection of colorful greeting cards appropriate for the various holidays that occur during the last six weeks of the year.

The first to come were the greetings cards from businesses and organizations who send cards of thanksgiving for our relationship to their network. The generic nature of these cards showed these businesses and organizations did not want to offend anyone’s religion or lack thereof.

Closely followed were fundraising appeals from a variety of Christian and non-Christian organizations with the hope we would make a noteworthy financial contribution before their close of business on December 31st.

Then Came the Christmas Cards

The first week of December brought early Christmas and pseudo-Christmas cards from our anal family and friends who bought cards a long time ago, signed and addressed them over Thanksgiving, and got them in the mail immediately. I try not to hate these people. But it is hard. Cards from real human beings start coming in around the 10th of December. Each day seems to bring more cards than the day before.

The cards are of all types. First, there are the cards with a printed signature and no note. Why bother? Second, are the cards with a person’s first name and no return address. “Who are these people,” I ask my wife? Third, are the cards with the annual letter enclosed. There are two kinds of these letters. One is a great update so we can keep up with people we would love to see more regularly. The other is the brag letter that lets you know they are a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious family. I feel so inadequate after reading these; also jealous, envious, and other questionable emotions.

Fourth, are the signed cards and with a personal note of appreciation and news. These are often my favorite. Fifth, is the photo card–particularly of children–with a few seasonally appropriate religious words printed next to the photo. If a Christmas-focused personal note is written on the back this can be an honorable mention.

Sixth, is the Catholic card. It is interesting to see cards where the photo and/or message makes it clear it was intended as a card to be sent from a Catholic household. While that is fine, the implied Catholic theology–especially about Mary–is really pretty clear. It is obvious the sender–a Protestant–did not understand.

Are These Christmas Cards?

The interesting thing about the cards is that some are distinctively Christian and focus on the “reason for the season”. Some have a few obligatory single words that let you know they meant for it to be a Christian Christmas card. Others have no mention of a Christian Christmas. They may talk about Santa Claus, presents, Christmas trees, and other aspects of a genuine celebration that represents a spirit of love. Often the focus of these cards is around children, and who could object to this?

Isn’t it Garrison Keillor who is credited with saying, “nothing you do for children is ever wasted.”

Over the years I have noticed that people I would consider to be more devout Christians always have a distinctively Christian card. I affirm this emphasis. Do you? The other two types seem to come from more casual Christians, or people I would call cultural Christians. Often these people are uncomfortable being distinctively Christian for a myriad of reasons

It is amazing what we reveal by our approach to Christmas cards. Or, what I reveal by my assessment of Christmas cards. What do you think makes a Christmas card a Christmas card?

George Bullard

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About the Author
George is President of The Columbia Partnership at www.TheColumbiaPartnership.org, This is a Christian ministry organization that seeks to transform the North American Church for vital and vibrant ministry. More than a dozen consultants and coaches are related to The Columbia Partnership. It is a strategic partner with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. George is the author of three books: Pursuing the Full Kingdom Potential of Your Congregation, Every Congregation Needs a Little Conflict, and FaithSoaring Churches. George is also General Secretary [executive director] of the North American Baptist Fellowship at www.NABF.info. This is one of the six regions of the Baptist World Alliance. One final role George holds is that of Senior Editor of the TCP Leadership Series books with Chalice Press at www.ChalicePress.com. More than 30 books have been published in this series during the past seven years.

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