Julie Lyles Carr: Setting the Record Straight

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Setting the Record Straight

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As far as holiday traditions go, ours have been rather fluid. Our moves over the past seven years have completely changed the landscape of What Used To Be and as my brothers' families and Mike's sister's family have grown, the complexities and adjustments and schedules of busy, travel-weary kinfolk has necessitated flexibility and improvisation.

And yet.

I still am desperately trying to crank out the one holiday tradition I've had for several years.

And that is the annual Christmas card. Which I try very hard to get out the week of Thanksgiving.

Thereby giving the false impression to family and friends that I am organized and on top of the holiday to-do list. Which I am not. At all. Except for the Christmas card thing.

But on the Christmas card thing, I actually do think I have something to offer to my dear readers. A few little tips that may help (if you are so inclined) to get a card out for the holidays.

1. Get comfortable with Outlook.
I finally took the time to get all my Christmas list into a contact file in Outlook. It took some time, but it has been so worth the result when it comes to crunch time. I'm able to quickly print out my envelopes using my Outlook records.

2. Print out your envelopes.
I personally use Microsoft Office Word...'07, I think. If you click 'New' and then go to 'Mailings', you will find under the 'Start Mail Merge' button a magic little thing called 'Step by Step Mail Merge Wizard'. This handy dandy little feature will completely walk you through everything you need to do to set up your envelopes, complete with access to your Outlook addresses, so that you too can print out your envelopes lickity-split.

3. Set a target date. And really try to keep it.
See, the thing is, November and December FLY by for me. The kids are all involved in productions and shows and competitions, we have family come in and we travel to see family. I have end-of-year reports to generate for work. We also have three family birthdays thrown into the mix. If I didn't have a hard target of mailing out my Christmas cards during the week of Thanksgiving, it would be February before I looked up and realized I'd never sent them out.

4. Pick a card. Any card.
Give yourself a little window to be particular and fussy about your card and the layout and how you look in the family picture. And then get over it. And order the card. And move on with your life.

5. Accept that there are lots of folks who don't send out Christmas cards. Who nevertheless love getting them from you.
I do the Christmas card thing without keeping score or having any expectation. It's just a little something I like to do to let people know that I love them, that I'm thinking of them. We don't always get around to the niceties we would like to for the people who populate our world. With eight kids and a gargantuan extended family, there's usually not much left in the Christmas coffers for fruit cake for the rest of the folks who color our world. So hopefully my little Christmas card venture helps say how much we appreciate the people in our lives.

I think I'm in the final card prep stages....time will tell. Yes, there are turkeys to be brined and floors to be scrubbed and linens to be washed before next week. But I'm going to give a good ol' college try to get my cards in the mail...and then scramble to keep up with the rest of the Yule avalanche...


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