Some people think I write entirely too many Christmas cards. I disagree.

I don’t think 142 card is too many. I love writing, sending, delivering and handing out cards to my friends and family.

It’s something I’ve done all my life. It’s a joy to sit down in the evening, look at my list of cards sent and received last year, and begin.

Typically I have three or four boxes of cards and choose a card I think most appropriate for the recipient, and one he or she will most likely appreciate.

Giving Christmas cards is like giving little gifts to people I care about. Albeit small, the gift is personal, and from the heart.

I write a lot in some cards; not so much in others. I try not to go on too long, but to dispense just enough information to let people know what our year has been like, what is going on in our families and what is coming in the new year.

And, of course, I ask how the recipient is doing.

Sending Christmas cards, for me, is like being on Facebook, except you can keep in touch with people in a real-life way and produce a little gift that they can hold in their hands, not one they view in cyberspace.

The great thing is, when you send cards, you receive them. And my husband and I rarely receive two identical cards, so every time we open an envelope, we get a little surprise.

My cousin, Mary, who grew up in New York City but now lives in Montreal, has always been my role model when it comes to Christmas cards. For years she has sent beautiful, artful, and tasteful cards. A long time ago, I followed her lead and have tried to find cards that are unusual and artsy.

Shopping for Christmas cards, for me, is fun. I make it a mission. I get an adrenaline rush when I find just the right design.

Sound crazy? Maybe. But writing notes is in my blood. My grandmother taught us long ago that you should always send thank you notes when you get gifts, and say something specific about them.

And when someone is in the hospital or sick, you send a card; if someone dies, a sympathy card. And don’t just sign your name. Say something meaningful.

I get this vein of thinking. I’ve had my share of serious illness and hospitalizations, where getting cards was a lifeline. We all have experienced the loss of friends and family members and know just how precious cards bearing thoughtful and heartfelt words can be.

Years ago, a very astute professor, Earl Seidman, imparted some words of wisdom I have never forgotten.

He said that when you send a note or craft an essay or tell a story in writing, it is the ultimate gift, as you are giving something from your self, from your heart.

It’s very easy to go out and purchase expensive presents and gift cards; it’s a little more work, and challenging, to give a part of yourself.

When we were kids, we loved to see the mailman come at Christmas time because we were delighted to see all the pretty cards and read the notes inside. It was like connecting with all our friends and family around the globe, in one fell swoop.

We would tack those cards up all along the archway between our dining and living rooms so we could admire and read them all during the holiday season. When illuminated by the lights of the Christmas tree, they seemed all the more magical.

All these years later, my heart skips a beat when I come home from work and see Christmas mail on the kitchen table.

We savor every word, every pretty scene of reindeer on snow, of Santa Claus, the manger and evergreens with holly.

These are the truly luxurious gifts that make our Christmas complete.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 24 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]

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