Have Christmas Cards Become Obsoleted (Too)?

This year, I once again spent a good deal of time writing a special verse for my family’s annual Christmas card. I also selected a number of recent photos of my college-age kids to share as part of the card. Sending Christmas cards is a tradition that my mom first exposed me to when I was very young; I routinely sent relatives a hand-written card…not expecting anything in return, just to connect with them and wish them well. My mom had thought it was particularly important as most of my relatives lived on the other side of the US from our family. I fear this tradition is coming to an end, however. As with many things in my life, I feel like I am plodding along in a dinosaur fashion by actually sending out physical cards. Have Christmas cards now become obsoleted, too? 

shutterfly xmas card example

An obsolete Christmas card? Photo courtesy Shutterfly.

I never really viewed Christmas card giving as “reciprocal”. I have sent cards to certain people for years, and have never gotten a card in return. That was OK with me; cards were just not their tradition or interest, or they just did not have the time.

But last year I received substantially fewer cards. And this year? Almost half of last year’s low. Was it something I said? Hmmmm. I’m starting to feel like my cards are perhaps no longer welcome.

Do my cards make their recipients feel pressured to respond, thus their strategy of not sending me a card in the hopes I will delete them from my list? Are people upset about the number of trees that are killed due to my paper-intensive holiday mailings? Or have I really lost that many friends?

There is definitely something different going on.

Perhaps it is the Internet. Oh, it seems a lot of my issues in life have tied back to the big “I” in some capacity…problems with my kids on the Internet…too much time being spent and too many privacy rules being broken. But now, the big “I” may, in fact, be making the world of traditions seem not only prehistoric, but perhaps even annoying?

Do the people on my Facebook page feel that they are already so overly connected that they don’t need the annual card? Or is the digital world just making the holiday greeting take on a simpler form? The new trend seems to be that people post their greeting on their Facebook page…I do agree that is efficient and much less time-consuming…but to me, my tradition involves the actual process of sending out the physical card.

I received numerous electronic greeting cards via email this year for Christmas. I have to say, many were quite amazing; involving video, music and photo slide-shows…some were incredibly creative. I wonder…should I do this next year instead?

But I just can’t wrap my arms around digital traditions yet. Guess my kids are right; I am a dinosaur..at least, a digital dinosaur. I don’t even feel the two words, “digital and traditions”, can be used together yet.  First, I think another decade needs to go by.

my "Christmas Kids" basket of Christmas photos, cards and memories...

My “Christmas Kids” basket of Christmas photos, cards & memories…

I have a large basket in my living room which I refer to as my “Christmas kids” basket…I save every photo from family and friends, including Christmas photo cards and notes, and have them in the basket…flipping through the basket you can see all the children in my life as they grow from babies to adults. You can read family newsletters about their joys and sorrows from that particular year. The basket is quite full now. It is fun to drag out at dinner parties.

I don’t save the electronic greeting cards or download the Christmas photos posted on Facebook; those memories don’t make it to the basket, or anywhere else frankly. Like with so much in the big “I”, at least to me, those memories are viewed once and gone, just like they were sent via SnapChat…here are the best moments of our family’s past year…oops, blinked so you missed it.

old-fashioned Christmas themed stamp on my Christmas cardsNope, can’t get my arms around all of that. So, the Christmas verse and family photos will likely continue to be sent through the mail…this year, stamped with a very Christmas-themed gingerbread house stamp and printed on snowflake paper. The addresses hand-written, on matching snowflake envelopes, of course.

Old fashioned but from the heart.

And am I the only one who loves retrieving Christmas cards from the mailbox?!?

But note to my friends. If you send your cards electronically, please keep me on your list! I enjoy your updates, photos and creativity. It is just hard to teach this old dog a new trick; to break a life-long habit and family tradition. Just give me another decade. I’m bound to catch on.

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