Ditch Christmas cards and start a new tradition: Thanksgiving cards | Opinion – The Philadelphia Inquirer
Thanksgiving is a holiday that sees no race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or sexual orientation — a holiday for all of us. Doesn’t that deserve a card?
In the digitized world we live in today, there are few items of print that are, well, still printed. A greater rarity are items that are printed and mailed.
The occasional check, an invitation to a special occasion, and every holiday season — a Christmas card.
Somehow this relic of communication has not only survived the existential threat of modern-day technology, but the medium has gained momentum. Last year, when we were all hunkered down due to COVID-19, many people sent more cards than ever.
There is something increasingly romantic about receiving something by post — a throwback to a bygone era.
» READ MORE: Philly-area families send coronavirus-themed holiday cards: ‘It’s almost over!’
As we approach Thanksgiving, it could not be a better time to fine-tune your Christmas card game. Travel somewhere for a good shot, dress up your kids (or pets), and handcraft the perfect message. For our family of five, Christmas card season started the Tuesday after Labor Day with apple-picking. From that day onward, every outing is a potential Christmas card photo shoot, with the hopes that maybe we can corral two infants and a 3-year-old to be decently dressed, in a good mood, and at a minimum looking in the general vicinity of the camera. (Sound easy? You’ve clearly never tried.)
But despite my months-long effort to take the perfect Christmas card shot, I can’t help but wonder: Why aren’t we doing this for Thanksgiving instead?
I’ve had this idea for years, and while I continue to be rebuffed by my wife, at least she no longer censures me from spreading it to others who may be more open-minded card senders.
Thanksgiving is a whole lot more than poultry in the oven, football on the television, and putting on sweatpants after the guests have left. It’s a spirit that goes way beyond the day, and into our thoughts and actions in November. For many it’s the inspiration to support the local food pantry, or volunteer at the shelter. It’s the first thing I think of when I wish someone a nice holiday season. It is a holiday that sees no race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or sexual orientation — a holiday for all of us. And shouldn’t that get a card?
As a first-generation American, I’ve always considered Thanksgiving to be a special opportunity to be thankful for the many gifts this nation has bestowed on all those connected to it. For decades, my grandparents, living in a small town in southern Italy, would make a special trip to the local butcher to order a turkey in November — a most bizarre request in their area. They would enjoy a Thanksgiving meal every year, wishing us well by phone. They did this not because they were American but because their three children had emigrated to the U.S., lived out the American dream, and they wanted to participate in passing on that very blessing to their children and grandchildren.
To be clear, this notion is not an attempt to camouflage the holiday season or dress up a tradition to meet the standards of the most honorable or politically correct. It is not an atheistic attempt to extricate faith from the holidays, or further secularize this wonderful time of the year. And it is not intended to overlook or minimize the rightful pain felt by our Indigenous communities, who have an understandably fraught relationship with the holiday.
It is merely an effort to better align two long-standing traditions: our unique American holiday of giving thanks, and our sincere desire to extend well wishes to all those dear to us. Thanksgiving brings out a lot of beautiful feelings and sentiments, ones that we are all longing to share with one another.
So maybe this is the year you send a Thanksgiving card. Let that marinate a bit. (But not too long, because you’ve got only a few more days to make my card-sending dream your reality!)
Anthony V. Palmiotto is a husband and father to three, living in the Philadelphia suburbs. When not boring his daughters to sleep with the nuances of the Internal Revenue Code, he can be found chasing them around with a tripod seeking that perfect holiday shot. [email protected]