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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

RIP CHRISTMAS CARDS


RIP CHRISTMAS CARDS
This headline may be premature, but the Christmas card tradition that we know (and I hate) is not long for this world.  The tradition, of course is the sending and receiving of cards to everyone you have ever known.  It is a woman’s tradition, men help and will read the incoming cards, but if not for women, Christmas cards would not be sent.

My mom would start the Christmas card process the day after Thanksgiving and was not finished until the week before Christmas.  She wrote a personal note to each recipient.

Mrs. Cranky is not ready to give in and quit the tradition, but she will be the last of a dying breed.   She sends out over three-hundred cards a year, many to people she has not seen in years and is not likely to see again.  Mrs. Cranky limits the personal note to only those whose first name she remembers.   This process takes over eight hours* (with me as an assistant) and costs at least $300 in stamps and stationary.

None of this effort makes any sense in today’s world.  The Christmas Card tradition of old is the equivalent of today's Facebook;  the yearly sending and receiving of cards to see who has friended you, and who has unfriended you.

“I don’t think Sally Schwartz from Memphis sent us a card this year…guess we’ll cross her off for next year.”

“Damn we got a card from my mom’s old neighbor Mrs. Cattsenwaller, I better add her to next year’s list.”

The new generation is having nothing to do with this tradition, or will at least end it soon.   My son laments,

“Why spend hundreds of dollars when I can create one card, with multiple pictures and send it to all my friends with the push of the send button.”

My son is correct of course, and that is why the card sending tradition is not long for this world, but I do understand Mrs. C’s point of view.  Her, (my) generation would view a cyber-greeting as cold, tacky, and tasteless.  Thus we will continue to purchase cards, stuff envelopes, address envelopes, add return addresses, lick stamps, lick envelopes, and cart off several pounds of cards to the post office all to wish "Merry Christmas" to everyone we have ever shook hands with.

My children’s generation will receive these cards and think, “Damn, why do these fools spend so much time and so much money when there is email and Facebook?”  My children’s generation will never understand how critical the card tradition has been to the women of my generation, and until the collective mindset swings over to usage of modern technology, the post office will be remain very busy in December. 

I give it five to ten more years at best.

*Way longer without computer preprinted addresses.   

21 comments:

  1. I gave up this tradition four years ago (yippee). Sure works for me.

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  2. But, isn't it one of the big money makers for the Post Office?

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  3. This saddens me because over the years I've sold illustrations to greeting card companies and it troubles me to know (and I agree with you) that they're obsolete and on their way out. I didn't send out any cards this year and have only received three or four so far.

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  4. I must admit, I do love sending and receiving Christmas cards. But I do not send anything like 300! When I went to the States last month I took some with me and saved some postage -- but sent maybe 20. In the UK it is quite customary to hand deliver cards to people nearby and our church has a 'mailbox' set up so that takes care of another batch of postage. I like being able to stay in touch with people I care about -- even if it is only once a year...

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  5. I LOVE sending and receiving Christmas cards!! I would be so BUMMED OUT if in ten years this tradition was replaced with cyber cards through FB and email. I enjoy hanging up all the cards on the back of our downstairs doors. Most are picture cards with a family photo. By December 25th our doors are covered with festive cards and family photos, and I love it. Every day it's so exciting to run out to the mailbox to see how many cards we get that day. You think I'm kidding, but I'm NOT. I love it! I have a thing about the cards, though...if I don't get your card by December 25th then it doesn't make it up on the doors in my house. Sorry, but after December 25th the good feeling's gone and I'm in clean-up mode.

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  6. I'm with you Joeh. We're not sending out any cards this year except by the Internets. We have a friend who used to send about 300 every year. She said recently that she's cut way back this year - only about 50!

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  7. I remember my mother slaving over Christmas cards just as your mother did, with a letter written in every one. It was a chore, and yes, cards received in return were duly noted. I am lucky if I manage to get a dozen sent out, and then only to close friends whose day I want to brighten. It still is fun to find something in the mailbox besides advertising and bills! It is indeed becoming obsolete, like letter writing in general, and maybe the loss is somewhat sad, but I'm not paying $300 to do it, ever.

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  8. I design my own cards, which I LOVE to do--but I've cut our list down to only about 130 this year!!

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  9. Holy Crap! 300?? I don't even KNOW three hundred people.
    We send out around 30, and I thought that was way too many.
    Good for Mrs. Cranky. BUT, she'd be on her own if I had to get involved with that many cards.
    Keep that economy going!

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  10. But what will become of my mother's pearl fountain pen that only came out at Christmas?

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  11. Last year the wife addressed a big stack of cards, but she never got around to mailing them. She found the same stack this year, but so far she hasn't gotten around to mailing them...again. I'd say missing the deadline two years in a row pretty much means "the end" of our Christmas card tradition. RIP.

    S

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  12. I think you're right. RIP Christmas Cards. They never made much sense to me anyway. Just expensive, annoying time eaters. (bah, humbug)

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  13. The cards that I buy on post-X sales grow old yellow for me to mail them. This year, I broke my back and thought that, great, I will have plenty of time to mail cards. Alas, I soon afterwards shut my thumb in a door, and now I can't write.

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  14. i used to send christmas cards - up to about 75 a year, i think. then slowly started tapering down to 50, 35, 25... today i wrote 6 while i sat at the car dealership and my truck got serviced. then, on my way home, i flagged down the mailman - maybe not ours, but at least within my 'city' - by stopping on the highway, backing up and yelling - can i give you my mail? he took them. love small towns...

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  15. I am sending my one and only to my son whom I won't see this Christmas for the first time ever. I don't usually send cards. We do receive a few here and there.

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  16. I've never been a sender. When I receive a Christmas card, I think, "How nice." Then I wonder what to do with it. Throwing it away seems harsh. Taping it to the wall is work. Standing them around on tables, mantle, and counters looks cluttery, and they fall over when the kids whoosh by. I think the cards mean more to the sender than the receiver.

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  17. I love getting Christmas cards and pin them up along the shelves in the front room. I don't send many but the ones that I do are individually picked for each person rather than from a box set. I also tend to keep my favourites and put them up again each year.

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  18. I gave up on cards about 5 years ago already. But I must compliment your wife on her effort - I think it is great!

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  19. Steve sent me your way.
    We stopped sending Christmas cards a few years ago, for the reasons you state. We still GET a few, but their numbers have been dropping. This is either because they're saying, "SCREW the Penwassers! They didn't send us anything last year!" or for the reasons you describe. We also used to send those insufferable Yuppy "Aren't we cool?" status letters. Although, ours were never serious (I hoped that would reduce their annoying aspect somewhat). Once the kids went off to college, the letters stopped. Now? I'll go with "insincere and fake" expressions of Yuletide joy on social media.
    Merry Christmas!
    Trust me. NOT insincere.

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  20. Great post! I too will be sad to see this tradition disappear, but like you I think it is a fading memory. I wonder, Will we even have the postman delivering mail to our mailbox everyday ten years from now?

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  21. I hope Hallmark and American Greetings have a back up plan.

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