Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

It Got Me Thinking…About Thoughtful Holiday Greetings December 20, 2011

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

Last week, LWBer Dorothy Williams wrote about holiday cards in her guest spot, With Eyes of Faith…Birthday Jesus. She writes about why she chooses to send a card that celebrates the birth of Jesus versus “one of those cards” that trumpets family and children and seems to stab us right in the heart with our childfreeness.

It got me thinking about the worst holiday greeting I ever received. I was recently single again and in the throes of an if-I’m-going-to-be-a-mother-I-need-to-have-a-child-on-my-own-NOW panic attack. Friends’ cheery letters celebrated new homes, new babies, and full lives, and while I so wanted to be happy for them, each new photo was a painful reminder of all that I lacked and so desperately wanted.

In the pile of unopened mail one afternoon was a delivery from a long-time friend. In an effort to save time, she had mass produced address labels and affixed them to the envelopes. Smart. Mine was addressed to “The Guthrie Family,” although my friend had crossed out “The” and “Family” and written “Kathy” above. Not so smart. The insensitivity took my breath away.

I’ve talked to friends who have lost spouses to death or divorce, and they share a similar hurt when cards are inappropriately addressed. I want to shout “THINK, PEOPLE!” I know we’re all busy, I know this season is crazy, I know we are each shouldering our burdens, but please, take an extra minute, waste that extra stamp, and practice sending goodwill to all.

Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. When she can plan ahead, she prefers to send Thanksgiving cards.

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11 Responses to “It Got Me Thinking…About Thoughtful Holiday Greetings”

  1. IrisD Says:

    I really dislike the facebook posts that say things like, “If you have a daughter you love and are so proud of….” or “If you have a husband who is the best man in the world…” I just think… Really, if you feel that way, tell her or tell him… Other people may be happy for you, but it’s not about them. If you love that person, tell that person, and think that you might have a friend who is recently divorced, widowed, down about their relationship status… bragging is not a good thing to do.

  2. mccxxiii Says:

    I always think I’m going to compose one that says something like “If you earn your own money and spend it the way you want without consulting anyone else, if you take an hour-long bubble bath with a glass of wine on a Tuesday, if you spend Saturday morning doing yoga and gardening, if you go to art museums and eat off fine china …” and so on …

  3. Illanare Says:

    A friend of mine sent my partner and me “one of those” family photo cards last Christmas – which was more than usually hard to stomach as that Christmas Eve was the first anniversary of a loss. We put it in the shredder – it was very cathartic.

  4. CiCi Says:

    My jaw just literally dropped at the rudeness of this too busy person!!! How completely inconsiderate!!! I’m so sorry that you had to experience that.

  5. Mali Says:

    I’m speechless at your “friend’s” insensitivity. I wrote about holiday cards a few weeks ago too, and I am puzzled at why people send those family cards. They make it all about “me me me” rather than the recipient of the card – hardly the spirit of the season.

    I also laughed at Illanare’s idea of shredding one of the cards!!

  6. SA Says:

    I like the idea of shredding the card.
    My problem is I get people requesting me to send monies or gifts to buy ‘their kids’ Christmas gifts. They go on & on about how ‘their’ kids are the love of ‘their’ life; how ‘their’ kids DESERVE gifts; how it would break ‘their’ hearts for ‘their’ kids to get up Xmas morning and have no gifts.
    I just want to scream & curse !!!
    It takes everything in me to remain cordial.
    Afterall, on Christmas I have no human kids. They aren’t concerned about me or my morning.
    Sorry, I’m just having a hard time this time of the year. I lost 3 babies (3 different miscarriages). The last one I lost was around this time of the year.
    Thank you for letting me vent.

  7. Lib Says:

    Maybe it’s just me but … whenever I receive holiday cards with photos of children and family, I don’t have the urge to shred. My husband and I embrace the fact that we have wonderful nieces and nephews. We take interest in what everyone is up to. We’re happy that everyone is doing well, healthy and happy and accomplishing things. There’s no room for bitterness in our hearts. Because we focus positively on our connected extended family, we’re never left out. Learn to be happy by appreciating all people in your life, young and old. Peace to all.


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