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People Still Like Getting Christmas Cards in the Mail

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I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,
With every Christmas card I write.
-Irving Berlin

At this time of year there is so much to do, and it seems that one cannot find time to sit down and write Christmas cards anymore. Obviously it is easier and faster to just jot down some lines on the computer, use spell check, and hit the send button. Unfortunately, there is something inherently unsatisfying about the process for both the sender and the receiver.

Of course, if you have children and want to send a card in the mail, then you are now caught up in sending the picture card as opposed to sending a regular Christmas card. Certainly pictures can be slipped inside folded cards and sent, but invariably that is more time consuming, so the senders now opt for store-created picture cards (easily made in minutes at places like CVS). They come with envelopes, so one only needs to have the message printed on the front of the card, something innocuous like “Love” and then Mom and Dad’s name followed by the kids’ names. I admit to falling into this category.

It is exciting, especially for kids, to get these cards. My daughter comes home from school and can’t wait to rip them open. She gets to see how big cousins and friends’ kids have grown in a year, and they are going to see the same thing when they get the card with a picture of her and her brother on it. There is something a bit old-fashioned about this custom, even if it is coming to you via the latest digital camera technology.

I do have a problem with these cards, though. They still lack a “message” because of their design. There is no place to write on the front, but one can turn it over and have an entire 4-inch by 8-inch surface to send a message. Sadly, no one seems to avail him- or herself of this possibility these days (again, I admit I fall into this category).

Still, whenever I listen to Christmas songs these past few weeks, inevitably Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas” comes on, and when he gets to the part about writing Christmas cards, I get a little misty because we’re sending them but not writing them anymore for the most part. Even the labels on the front of the envelopes get printed out courtesy of the computer.

Despite the impersonal efficiency these cards have wrought, the post office can take solace in knowing that people still like sending cards and receiving them. That is good news for the USPS, at least one month out of the year.

We have received a good many cards, and I’d estimate that close to two thirds of them are of the picture variety. Sadly, even the standard folded cards come with scant messages. People I haven’t seen in years write something like, “Love and best wishes” followed by their names. I had no idea how they were doing before getting the card and nothing more after receiving it.

No matter what, I do enjoy going to the mailbox and pulling out all those cards in colorful red and green envelopes, and the picture cards certainly make the front of a white refrigerator door seem downright festive. Now, if people could just get back to writing something on these cards, then things would seem infinitely more personal, and wouldn’t that make old Bing happy? Well, maybe next year.

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About Victor Lana

Victor Lana has published numerous stories, articles, and poems in literary magazines and online. His books In a Dark Time (1994), A Death in Prague (2002), Move (2003), The Savage Quiet September Sun: A Collection of 9/11 Stories (2005) and Like a Passing Shadow (2009) are available online and as e-books. He has won the National Arts Club Award for Poetry, but has concentrated mostly on fiction and non-fiction prose in recent years. He has worked as faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with Blogcritics since July 2005, has edited many articles, was co-head sports editor with Charley Doherty, and now is a Culture and Society editor. He views Blogcritics as one of most exciting, fresh, and meaningful opportunities in his writing life.
  • http://frontwave.eu Pablo Valerio

    I completely agree, I like to receive and send cards. But I have to confess that some year I did not send any.
    I like the kind I can write myself, with a simple design and room to write.
    There is nothing like a handwritten message to inspire friends and family.

  • http://www.MissLuluBlogs.com Lua

    I love sending and receiving cards during the Holidays. I definitely don’t think an e-card could ever truly replace a nice Christmas card via snail mail. And you’re right…ESPECIALLY fun for kids! :)

  • http://www.crozon.ca Crozon – Freelance Writer

    Although I love getting Christmas cards in the mail, I’m not a big fan of sending them. So much wasted paper, knowing that half the people will probably throw them out anyway… oh well maybe I’m just too much of a Scrooge.

  • http://viclana.blogspot.com/ Victor Lana

    Thanks for your comments. I got some more cards today (the folding kind). All were just with names signed and no messages of any kind.