Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Return to Sender

Around this time of year, when the fallen leaves start to give off that certain fall scent, and one by one each of the stores begin to switch over to their Christmas music, one cannot help but allow her mind to skip ahead a few weeks to the holidays.

Those who get the week off between Christmas and New Years have begun a countdown not unlike that of school children waiting for summer break. Non-native New Yorkers think fondly of their hometowns, and plan for both family traditions, and for new NYC traditions, in equal parts. Possible gifts to give or receive dance like suger plums in everyone's head, no matter her age.

The crisp air that hasn't yet turned bitter cold acts as wind at everyone's back, and suddenly invitations from friends are as plentiful as fallen leaves, as everyone tries to squeeze in some fall enjoyment before the holiday invitations are sent out.

Right now, just before the streets become crowded with holiday decorations and tourists, but after the smelly warm months, New Yorkers always seem slightly more jovial. A little happier to live here, and a little more willing to give a friendly word to a stranger on one's commute.

For a season that signifies death, this time of year always surprises me with it's happy possibilities. The loneliness of January and the bitter freeze of February seem years away, and the approaching winter solstice's threat of long dark hours doesn't seem that bad. Soon, long-missed friends and family will be visiting, and one can focus on the enjoyment those few crazy days will bring when we all try to cram as many visits and parties into our holiday schedule as possible.

This time of year also feels full of promise for all the lovely things one can accomplish for her loved ones for the holidays. Who hasn't made a long list of baked goods to bake, presents to pick up, gifts to create from scratch, holiday parties to plan, and piles of cards to post? And who hasn't felt betrayed by Father Time when suddenly the holidays have arrived, and not everything one wanted to do has been accomplished?

One of those items for me is always sending out Christmas and Hanukkah cards. Every year, I plan to follow the example set by one of my mother's friends, and send out my cards the weekend after Thanksgiving... And every year I fall short of that goal. A couple years ago, I fell so short that I only managed to send off cards to my close relatives -- I was simply too embarrassed to mail them out to others at such a late date. But there have also been years when I've gotten out many cards in a timely fashion, and I've discovered a the trick that makes all the difference in the world: Not having to write out my return address.

The year my wife and I were married, my mother ordered beautiful notecards with embossed return addresses for us to send as thank-you notes. When the holidays came, my wife and I ordered more -- this time with a picture from our wedding attached -- to send to all our wonderful friends and family. Not spending hours writing out our return address over and over made a time-consuming project far less tedious, and I never had to worry that my handwriting was becoming sloppy from writing the same thing over and over. 

While I adore how beautiful notecards with matching envelopes and return addresses printed on them are, this year I have cards without return addresses on them that I plan to use, so instead of slowing down the process of sending out cards, I am hunting for a custom address stamp. There are thousands of options on Etsy, so here's a little roundup of a few for under $10.

Clockwise from top left: UniqueStamp, mancoostamp, Cre8tiveRubberStamp, and Cre8tiveRubberStamp

All from BeautyStamp

Here's to the possibilities of the season. Good luck with the checking off everything on the list this year. 

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-Kurt Vonnegut