Thanksgiving is still a few days away but there's no question it's already beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Storefronts and interiors are decorated, shelves are stocked in anticipation of the Black Friday hordes.
At home, people took advantage of a warm fall to get the exterior of their houses adorned with festive greenery and lights. Then fully in the spirit, they shifted their energy indoors. Snowmen and santas took their places. Garlands graced mantels and staircases. Furniture was shuffled and the tree erected in pride of place. The efforts bring warmth to every room, an invitation for family to gather and share life, love and laughter together.
All of this takes time, of course. Busy, busy describes this season, as weeks are spent in various aspects of the holiday preparations. Besides checking off the list and decking the hall, there is baking to do and gifts to be wrapped.
Now, too, people will begin addressing their Christmas cards. Some opt for family pictures — a good way to make faces, seen infrequently, familiar again. Others send traditional messages of peace and goodwill in cards graced by an image of pastoral winter landscapes, smiling St. Nicks or the gentle nativity scene.
The list can be long, including the loved ones we cherish right on down to distant acquaintances — anyone to whom we wish to reach out with a message of cheer for the holidays.
My husband comes from a large family and for many a night during decades of Christmas seasons, I sat at the table addressing and stamping a massive number of cards. Of all the Christmas tasks it was the one that brought me the least enjoyment and was the only one completed with a perfunctory, I-could-care-less attitude. Even receiving them didn't bring me any particular pleasure. Nice, but nothing I couldn't live without. For me it really all felt like a colossal waste of money at a time of year when that could be better directed elsewhere.
The problem though is that I really did want to extend greetings to those near and dear or faraway yet familiar. How to resolve those conflicting feelings was something I wrestled with every November.
And then inspiration came in the form of an eGreeting from my sister and her husband. This, they explained, was in place of their Christmas card. The money saved on stamps would be directed instead to charity. We latched on to the idea with all the fervour of elves at deadline on Christmas Eve and have been giving money to those in need rather than Canada Post ever since, while still conveying our wishes for a joyous holiday season to everyone on our list.
Creating something festive and original to send their way is easy to with the terrific diversity of holiday backgrounds to be found with online subscription graphics services such as iCLIPART.com and Clipart.com. You can add text to a colourful background or frame your message in a cheery border. Here are some wonderful examples to inspire you:
iCLIPART.com Christmas Backgrounds
iCLIPART.com Christmas Elements
Clipart.com Christmas Background and Elements