Currier and Ives’s nostalgic landscapes. Firs bedecked with ornaments, lights, and tinsel. Santas of all shapes. Snow. Snow. Snow. Holy scenes with churches and nativities. Greeting cards like these arrived to our homes during the Christmas season, an expected and anticipated tradition of keeping in touch with the special people in our lives at this special time.
 
But, why do most of us limit card-giving to December? Now that the holidays are over, why aren’t we utilizing this personalized method to show others we care the rest of the year? Take a look at the USPS mailing volume statistics or visit your local stationery store (if you’re still lucky to have one in your area), and you’ll see a dramatic shift. Even though the ease and convenience of social media has changed the greeting card world, don’t let it pare away the individual touch that is an essential trademark of receiving a real card with a real stamp addressed just to you.
 
Remember the joy of reaching into your mailbox, seeing those Christmas greetings, slowly opening the envelopes, and then reading them and the occasional newsletters? Why not grasp some of that excitement and carry it throughout the year? And, why limit this to only friends and family?
 
Imagine this. You don’t know her all that well. Sure, you sit near each other on hard, metal bleachers while your daughters play junior varsity basketball, but you wouldn’t necessarily describe her as a close friend. You hear she’s dealing with ovarian cancer and is now homebound, recuperating from surgery and treatment.
 
There’s the family a couple streets over. You know them casually, see them out for walks, and occasionally visit about the weather and their dogs. You read in the newspaper that their teenaged son, the talented pianist with red hair, was recently killed in a car accident.
 
Situations like these make you feel helpless and unsure what to do. If they involved closer friends or family, a casserole would already be delivered as would offers to babysit children or shovel snow from the driveway. Those circumstances illicit prompt, easy responses, but what do you do for people you don’t know as well? Would offers of help appear intrusive?
 
There is one very simple solution. Send a greeting card. You don’t even need to possess a private email address, because locating a house address is far easier. While that may still seem too personal, let me assure you, it will be welcomed.
Click to Tweet:Trust me. Opening a card during the rest of the year will be treasured just like it was during the holidays.
 
Eight years ago at Christmas I was diagnosed with stage three thyroid cancer. I had my first surgery that January and a second one several days later. For the next few weeks I was on a very specific low-iodine diet (no eggs, dairy, sodium, certain red-dye products, seafood or chocolate, just to name some of the many foods I couldn’t eat).
 
When my iodine levels reached the right mark, I had a radioactive iodine treatment. Yes, you read that correctly. Radioactive. And it required three days of isolation. Fortunately, I could be home, but there were still many restrictions. My clothes, towels, and bedding had to be washed separately. My husband had to be an arm’s length away and sleep in another room. Showers were necessary several times a day. Paper products, utilized for meals, had to be disposed of in a very specific manner several weeks later.
 
Immediately after that, the twenty-five radiation treatments began. This occurred during the middle of the winter flu and cold season, so I didn’t venture out much beyond doctor, pharmacy, and treatment visits.
 
During that four-month period, countless people showered us with generous and creative offers of help, but the consistent day-to-day boost I received was when the mail arrived. Phone calls and visits tired me, but reading cards never did. After awakening from my afternoon nap, I eagerly looked forward to the mailbox’s contents.
 
I treasured every card whether the senders knew me well or not. Their good wishes, prayers, and messages were encouraging and healing. All these years later, I still have every card. Yes, every single one.
 
So, if you wonder whether sending a card is appropriate or not, my advice is to go ahead and do it. Send one to the woman a few pews ahead of you in church whose husband died unexpectedly or to the co-worker from a different department who was recently laid off.
 
All you have to do is write thinking of you or just sign your name. Nothing more. Yet, that simple act could very well be the day-brightener someone needs.
 
Getting carded during an illness, trauma, or tragedy helps more than you can imagine. But, there need not be an emergency situation. If someone’s name comes to mind and won’t leave, perhaps, that’s a sign. Receiving an out-of-the-blue note for no reason is still meaningful.  
 
Trust me. Opening a card during the rest of the year will be treasured just like it was during the holidays. 
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