Each Christmas we send out a slew of Christmas cards, and receive slew minus epsilon in return.. (By "slew" I mean about 120; and you wonder why we find postage stamps to be a good investment.) The trouble is that these cards arrive in the mail at what is usually the busiest time of the year, where we have little time to appreciate them. If we happen to go away for Christmas, the situation is worse: we return not only to unpacking and laundry and neglected work, but also to a pile of cards and letters. It's so easy to slip into a routine: Slit envelope, check. Open card, check. Skim card, quickly read letter, and glance at photos, check. Enter data (news, change of address, etc.) into our Christmas card database for next year, check. Toss card and envelope into recycling, check. Breathe sigh of relief, check. But that's all wrong. The cards are meant to be appreciated, photos admired, and newsy letters savored.
Last year I read about a family who saves all their Christmas cards until the next year, putting them in a "prayer basket." Each day one of the children pulls a card out of the basket and the family prays for the people who sent it. I found that an admirable idea, but my anti-clutter side couldn't bear the thought of keeping a basketful of cards sitting around all year. I did, however, institute my own version, and I love it:
At the end of the above-mentioned data entry routine, the envelopes get recycled, but the cards go into my Tickler, spread out over the days. Thus, each morning I have one or two cards/letters/photos to enjoy in a relaxed fashion. I pray specifically for the people they represent, illuminated by whatever information I've just read. Then, and only then, do the cards go into the recycle bin.
Win-win-win. I receive much more pleasure out of our Christmas mail, people are prayed for, and I enjoy a small decluttering moment every day.