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The Christmas Card Exchange Sever

December 27, 2010
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Dear Erica,
I love sending holiday cards. I send a ton of them and I love getting them. And of course, the older I get, the longer my list gets. And this year, I noticed I have some friends who I faithfully exchange with – and haven’t spoken to since college. Literally – not a phone call, a Facebook message (I don’t even know if we are Facebook friends!) or a quick email to say hi. It’s JUST these Christmas cards. I can’t even think of something non-generic to say in them, and neither of us writes newsletter style cards.

At what point do I take this person off my list? And what if they are really upset when they realize I have done this? (I’m still sending a card this year….)

Holiday Wishes,
Scared of Alienating Never Talked-to Acquaintance

Dear SANTA,

I feel like there are two, clear-cut and competing answers for this question. One is the more seasonally-appropriate:

What’s the harm? It costs whatever a stamp costs these days, and only a fraction towards seasonal carpal tunnel. Keep signing that card, and you never know what the future may hold.”

And the other is “Oh for Pete’s sake! Stop!” If you have no intention of ever calling this girl again, can’t find it in yourself to invest any more in this friendship to even send a “Hey, I miss you – what’s going on in your life?” email or note in the card – what would you really be missing? Sure, she may be hurt for a second or two, but …

That’s okay.

It’s okay that somewhere out there, someone you knew but don’t speak to anymore may have a moment or two of slight disappointment with you. Not everyone has to love you, or even like you! And who knows, she may be grateful! Maybe even so grateful that she cares enough to send you an email saying “Hey, it looks like we stopped exchanging cards. What a shame! Maybe when you are in town we can get together for coffee?” Or, maybe she just silently seethes. And then a few minutes later, the whole ordeal is over. You save on stamps, learn an important lesson about not worrying about making everyone happy, and the poor mail carrier has that much lighter of a bag.

So, Grinchy Erica says “Trim those Christmas Card lists!” Life is too short to put time and energy into maintaining relationships that are just that.  Maintenance.

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