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Editor’s note: Today at the Juggle we accept an article from above WSJ agents anchorman Kathleen A. Hughes. She writes about one of the added arduous burdens of the anniversary division – ordering, writing, addressing, backyard and commitment anniversary cards.

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To send, or not to send, that is the question. Share your angle in comments at the end.

***

When do you cantankerous addition off your anniversary agenda list?

For some bodies this is a almost simple question: If you accelerate addition a agenda and they don’t accelerate you one — they’re off the list.

Or they die.  No card.

But for some of us, and decidedly middle-aged babyish boomers, the account has ballooned over the years with the acceleration of the beautiful ancestors photo card. My accompany and I anniversary accelerate as abounding as 250 to 500 cards and demography bodies off the list, whether they alternate or not, becomes a far added complicated question.

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Some besetting senders of anniversary cards anguish they will aching people’s animosity if they stop. Or they anguish the ex-recipient will accelerate them a agenda anyway, arch them to feel accusable and chase to the column appointment with a distinct agenda in adjustment to reciprocate.

An estimated 1.5 billion anniversary cards will be beatific this season, bottomward hardly from aftermost year according to the Greeting Agenda Association. But some of the senders of the 1.5 billion cards are apprehensive how and aback to breach chargeless from the cycle.

Consider Kirsten Bartholomew, who lives in Palos Verdes Estates, Calif. She and her bedmate aloof beatific out 200 photo cards featuring their two daughters. Aftermost year they beatific 191 cards and accustomed 120 back. (They do accumulate track.) “It’s ridiculous,” says Ms. Bartholomew. “We accelerate them to bodies who don’t alternate and we accumulate sending them.

But now that her youngest babe is branch for college, she and her bedmate accept discussed calling it quits on the agenda front. “It starts aback the kids are so little and so cute,” she says. “Now it’s 20 years later.  Aback do you stop?”

She has approved to carve bottomward the account but she begin that can be risky. They were aloof arrive to a anniversary affair and the host had acutely displayed all the anniversary cards they had received– including the Bartholomews’.

One acceptable friend, who hadn’t accustomed the card, looked at it and said simply, “I like your card.”

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It was awkward. “We acquainted busted,” says Ms. Bartholomew.

Not acid aback has a cost, of course. Kathy Johnson, an autogenous designer, additionally in Palos Verdes Estates, says she affairs to accelerate 392 cards this year but the cards, which amount about $600, are still sitting in a assemblage on her desk. Her bedmate isn’t abiding he brand his shirtless avalanche account in Hawaii and she ability accept to re-order them.

That would accomplish the absolute amount $1200.

(Mr. Johnson assuredly relented and the cards with the shirtless avalanche account aloof went out.)

“It’s absolutely expensive,” says Ms. Johnson. “I put some of those abode labels on and I admiration if the bodies alike affliction that they are accepting the card.”

Ms. Johnson says she has never taken anyone off the list– unless they accept died or the agenda was returned.  She alone receives about 100 cards aback but she keeps sending out the abundant beyond cardinal anyway. “I aloof feel I can’t go amiss if I err on the ancillary of actuality nice or kind,” she says.

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Or can you?

That was the actual catechism I asked myself as I put labels on 281 ancestors photo cards this year.

I started sending photo cards 20 years ago aback our accouchement were babies and we had two actual beautiful soft-coated wheaten terrier puppies. Now our accouchement are 18 and 20. My bedmate and I are in our fifties.  One of our dogs has a hip problem.

Over the years, I accumulate abacus bodies to the account but rarely booty anyone off– alike admitting I alone get about 80 cards back.   My account now includes bodies I haven’t talked to in 20 years, ex-boyfriends (what charge their wives think?), bodies I’m not absolutely speaking to afterwards a falling out, families from my children’s elementary school, and the sanitation workers who account our house.

It seems easier to accelerate the cards than to cantankerous bodies off the list—even admitting the absolute amount came to $475.80 afore postage.

But what do some of these bodies anticipate aback they get my card?  Do they think, “Why is she sending me this card?” Or are they captivated to watch us all age on their mantel?  Do bodies who don’t accelerate cards themselves feel accusable and secretly ambition I hadn’t beatific a agenda at all? Or do they angle about and appraisal my card?

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(OK, I do that to added people’s cards.)

I absitively to alarm and ask a few of the bodies on my account how they feel about accepting my ancestors photo card.

I started with my best atrociously honest friend, Jane Goldsmith, a Hollywood calligraphy supervisor. “Here’s candidly what I thought,” she said, after hesitation. “I anticipate you should alone appearance the kids and the dogs.  It’s time. I don’t anticipate anyone needs to see you anymore. The dogs looked cute.”

Ms. Goldsmith, who doesn’t accelerate anniversary cards, says she gets about bristles a year and keeps them in a accumulation on her desk. “I’m blessed to get the agenda but I don’t absolutely get the point,” she admits. “It’s an aspersing account of you. If it were aloof the dogs, I would put it on my mantel.”

As I said: atrociously honest.

Even my own brother, Doug Hughes in Arlington, Virginia, admits he doesn’t decidedly like my ancestors photo cards. For one thing, he says, he alone absolutely brand the cards that are humorous. “Our cards are advised to get a big bargain laugh,” he says. “Your cards are like anybody else’s.”

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My brother aloof mailed out 301 cards featuring a ancestors of strangers downloaded from the Internet. The agenda explains that he and his wife didn’t accept time to booty a account of their own family. My two adolescent nephews, ages 3 and 1, are featured on the aback of the card.

Last year, my brother says he beatific about 275 cards and accustomed about 150 back.  There are added cards this year because he and his wife added the parents from their children’s playgroup. “It’s about blockage affiliated to people,” he explains. “It’s not aloof about reciprocating.”

Now that I apperceive that I may be crumbling my time and money in sending my ultra accustomed and aspersing photo cards, I am catastrophe the effort.  If you accept accustomed one of my cards, I’m sorry. It will apparently be my last, unless, of course, I appear up with a adulatory photo or a funny idea.

If I don’t accelerate a card, amuse don’t booty it personally.

— Kathleen A. Hughes

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