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Ho Ho Humbug and the Demise of the Christmas Card

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It’s Christmas Eve, and I’m just now wrapping up my annual Christmas newsletter. By the way, I’m way ahead of schedule. My cards usually don’t hit the outgoing mailbox until January 1.

What? you say. Aren’t you on Facebook? Don’t you Twitter? Haven’t you got a half dozen email accounts? Aren’t three blogs enough communication for you? Are you sh***** me? You have to send out Christmas newsletters too?

Well, yes. You see, even though I am curmudgeonly and the original Grinch (because of my ire over Christmas now being a mainly commercial venture, the original reason for the season buried under an avalanche of economic trends, avarice and greed), I feel guilty. One reason: I didn’t send out Christmas cards at all last year. And two: I continue to receive cards from friends, relatives, and business associates, although these days the volume has dropped off precipitously.

How quaint and old-fashioned of me to keep up the tradition. How completely retro and anti-tech. One can definitely gauge my age by my compulsion to carry out the task.

But alas, the Christmas card, newsletter, and/or greeting is going the way of the dinosaur. The main reason for the demise of the Christmas card in particular and letter-writing in general is social networking. Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare – people know what you’re doing as you’re doing it, and they know exactly where you are in real time. People don’t write letters anymore; heck, they barely speak to each other face to face. The art of the thoughtful letter is withering on the vine. It’s easier to text using emoticons and shortened, misspelled words.

I’m a greeting card aficionado who appreciates a pretty, funny, or whimsical card, and I buy lots of them. But let’s face it: greeting cards, though artfully produced and visually pleasing, are expensive. Even though Hallmark touts a 99-cent greeting card, it’s still cheaper to send an e-card. Even though I spend a lot of money in their stores, I’m amazed Hallmark is still in business.

Another reason for the near-extinction of the Christmas card (and other forms of snail mail) is the Post Office. At 44 cents each, it’s an expensive proposition to send out Christmas cards, and the Postal Service’s service is sadly lacking in modern times. They don’t call it “snail” mail for nothing. I’ve seen mail take nine days to make the trip from Royal Oak to Kalamazoo. I could leisurely stroll to Kalamazoo in half that time. I used to send my Christmas cards from Christmas-themed cities, like North Pole, Colorado, Bethlehem, Indiana or Christmas, Michigan, just to get the unique stamp. With upcoming cuts in post offices, many of these small town post offices will be shuttered.

Money is money, honey, especially in a tough economy. My husband refuses to buy cards, instead composing his own poetic creations to accompany stick figure drawings or scammed-from-the-Internet images. Me, I wait until everything is half off or better, meaning it’s the day after Christmas when I go shopping – for the next year.

So basically, it’s only the old and people with money to burn who send out Christmas cards these days.

And I think another huge reason for the absence of greeting cards is that many people just don’t write. Either they are too busy to write, or, heaven forbid, they can’t. Students are not taught cursive handwriting in many locales. Having seen firsthand what is produced from our public school system where it’s obvious it’s taught that resumes can be submitted in all lower case and with no punctuation, it’s not a wonder to me why people, especially our young people, aren’t writing letters or sending cards.

There may be a point when I cease sending Christmas cards and newsletters. Maybe when the Post Office breathes its last gasp and the cold, dead body is interred in the ground. Until then, I’ll keep up the antiquated custom of sending out my Christmas message…late, of course.

Better late than never.

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About Joanne Huspek

I write. I read. I garden. I cook. I eat. And I love to talk about all of the above.
  • http://kidsaregrown.blogspot.com/ Melissa Lawler

    I am one of those lazy people who prefer to receive cards but not send them!

  • R0d

    I did send Christmas Cards to friends and clients.. indeed it has been commercialized