We love receiving cards in the mail at Christmas time. Seeing pictures of everyone’s families, the well-wishing notes and the words of encouragement for the New Year to come. We like it all. We also like creating our own family card each year too. That’s one tradition we kind of fell in to, but cherish. There have been plenty of years when we were too busy traveling, moving, or just down right tired, but we always came through with something.

Aya loves the written word. I think it’s one of her love languages. Cards are important to her. They always have been. She has every card or letter she has received since she was in elementary school. I’m not joking. Moving back and forth between US and Japan, that’s how she stayed in touch with her friends. So for as long as I’ve known her, Christmas cards have always been a big deal for her.

When I was a kid, my dad was into photography. He had a fancy camera, and he even had a dark room where he developed his own photos. There were a few years when he had a big idea for our family Christmas card. This was in the days long before Photoshop and Shutterfly. So all of the editing he did was in the dark room or just with the set-up of the camera. I remember thinking these cards were the coolest thing! When Aya and I had kids, those ideas of doing something different were transferred to me.

My brother and I dreaming of waiting for Santa.

My brother and I waiting up to catch Santa in the act.

This creative little project genuinely excites me. I love getting to use that side of my brain again.

For this year’s gingerbread house card, we used my dad and his equipment to set up our shot. He even has a green screen! Doesn’t everybody? Because, you never know when you’ll need a green screen, right? Once I had the individual photos, I had to buy and make a gingerbread house. This was actually my first time making a gingerbread house. I wouldn’t let the kids help, because it needed to be photo worthy. But I did let them eat it.

Processed with Rookie Cam

Once I had all the pieces, I just had to Photoshop them all together. And then we had to sit and write.

As daunting as it is sometimes to sit, address envelopes, and write cards, it’s a meaningful ritual for us. There is something special about putting a pen to paper and physically writing words meant for someone else to read. It’s nice to see the kids take an interest now too. They wrote their names in probably half of them, and even wrote messages in a few as well.

I especially like this because it shows our family history in goofy pictures. I look back at the photos and remember the conversations and the process of making it more than I do the final product. And right now the kids think it’s fun. It’s great that it’s something creative we can do together.

In the age of social media, texting, and the rising costs of postage, it seems sending letters and cards is a dying art. Do you still appreciate the act of sending and receiving cards?

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