Thursday, October 02, 2008

Q&A Wednesday, a Day Later

I came across this question in a fellow blogger's comment box and was so glad she asked:

"Is it egocentric to send a Christmas card with your family picture on it? "

Let me add a few related ones of my own.
1) Is it any less egocentric to have a family photo loose inside the card instead of as an integral part of the design?
2) Is the message you want to get across "thinking of you"? or "I want you thinking of me"?
or "Are we all thinking about Christ with this card?"?
3) If just a picture on the front is accompanied by a "religious" message inside, which speaks more loudly to you?
4) Do you feel obligated to keep all photos that are sent to you? If you feel obligated, do you do it anyway?
5) Do you feel you "owe" people pictures at Christmas?
6 ) Do you feel pressured to send only a "Christian" message and no pictures because of the whole question of egocentric greeting cards?
7) Is there a more appropriate season than Christmas to send family photos with newsletters?
8) Are the answers different based on the number of people/pets in the photo? That is, do you deem it okay for a 3-person family to send a card, but find it egocentric for a single, a couple, or a couple with dogs to send their picture?
9) What about giving pictures as gifts? Is it different if the recipient has asked for a picture vs. that's what you decided you want to give them?

Just asking questions to stir quality thinking. My husband and I have been 'round and 'round about this issue for years. It always ends the same.


Vicki said...

So how does it end? I think it would be egocentric for me as a single to send a card, but I am planning to adopt and I can tell you that year I will be sending a picture. Also I had friends that bought a house and had a picture of them in front of their new house. I only send Christmas cards to people I won't see over Christmas - distant family or friends I haven't seen in years. A picture is a way of showing what has changed in the past year. There is no way I could ever send to everyone local. Even my family knows that they aren't getting a card from me since I will see them at Christmas. Cards and postage are so expensive. I am also pretty bad at getting things done in a timely manner so I have sent my cards out really early or after the New Year.

I struggle with - "Do you just sign your name to the card, write a personal note on every card (which is part of the reason they go out late... that can be overwhelming...), enclose a standard letter of info (without being the proverbial Christmas letter - Me and Life are just so wonderful...)... what to do, what to do...

Last year... I did nothing... is that egocentric too???

Briana Almengor said...

I think people love seeing how your family has grown. I love getting pictures in Christmas cards. I have them on my fridge and keep them up all year until I get next year's photo to be reminded daily to thank God for our friends and pray for them. I love that people send photos, and I think it makes a great Christmas present, too.

Amy said...

whew, deep thoughts! I, too, am curious about how your discussion with Paul ends :)

It has honestly never occurred to me to think of sending a photo at Christmas as "egocentric"--whether it's a big family or a couple or whatever.

2 - The message I want to get across is both "I'm thinking of you" and "we're thinking of Christ." I don't think I have any hidden motives of "I want you thinking of me"...but now I feel paranoid :)

4 - I feel obligated to keep the photos, but I LIKE to. I cover my refrigerator with them. Love looking at people I love all year round.

5 - I don't feel I "owe" people a photo, but I know how much *I* like getting photos so I assume other people are the same. Maybe a false assumption? How does it change if you have young kids and you know people really are wanting to see updated photos of your baby (and probably won't see them any other time than in this Christmas card)?

6 - like I said, this has never been a question, so for us it's not "either/or" but "both/and"--a picture AND an overtly Christian message (which I sometimes then wonder if nonbelievers feel I am shoving it down their throats year after year...)

7 - can't think of a more appropriate season...that doesn't mean there isn't one, but tradition seems so firmly established that it would feel really strange to NOT send cards at Christmas but send a random photo and newsletter in, say, July.

9 - pictures as gifts are OK only for parents or grandparents, I think. for parents, only of their grandkids and only if accompanied by other gifts...for grandparents, OK across the board (at least I hope so b/c we've done it!)

Here's a spinoff question...I had a college professor once who thought the newsletters were egocentric. She didn't have a quibble with photos, at least not that she mentioned, but thought the newsletters were annoying brag-sheets, much worse than a photo at communicating "all about me" rather than "I'm thinking of you". It really does seem like occasion to boast in what you (or your kids) have and do, at least potentially... That makes more sense to me, I think, than pictures as egocentric. I've always felt really self-conscious when writing those Christmas letters ever since that professor's comment.

Briana Almengor said...

Along with the photos, I also love the letters people send. As one who sends letters, I have a choice what the tone of my letter is going to be, as do we all. It can most definitely be less of a brag sheet (if that at all) and more of an opportunity to communicate how God had once again been good and faithful to your family..and, that even in the midst of sharing the daily activities, accomplishments, hardships, etc. of the previous year.
Let's remember that God ultimately looks at our hearts. I think it's a good exercise to question why we do what we do, but not to the point that we become self absorbed in paranoia about what others may think of our actions.
He's given us so much in life to enjoy in Him, which I think includes all kinds of Christmas (and other holiday) traditions even the annual Christmas letter and/or photo.

Rachelle said...

I love getting pictures of my friends and family every year at Christmas. Especially those we don't get to see...sometimes, as with old college friends, that is our only communication and I want to see how their family is changing and growing (even if they don't have children).
For us personally, we try to do a family Christmas picture every other year, on the opposite year we write a letter or I hand write cards and yes, it is time consuming, but I love getting personal messages and hope others appreciate that too.

Blessings on deciding what to do!