Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Cards

Keith read an article on Slate the other day called "Did Facebook kill the Christmas Card?" The subtitle is "Our mailboxes are practically empty."

He told me about the article and its premise as we sat at the dining room table. I looked around at the numerous Christmas cards we've received, hanging on ribbons across doorways, windows, and the mantle. I think we sent out about 60 cards, and probably received nearly the same.

I'm not really convinced by the author's argument that no one sends Christmas cards anymore. First of all, the author admits to not sending out cards. I've definitely taken people off our Christmas card list if I don't get reply cards from them for a few years in a row. It's not that I'm angry or anything; I just figure that they don't really care much about the tradition, so why would I keep sending them?

Therefore, if I were friends with the author, I wouldn't be sending her Christmas cards, even though I would be sending and receiving plenty of my own.

I like the photo Christmas cards (clearly, since those are the ones I send myself). It's nice to get a tangible reminder that someone is thinking of you at the holidays, and take a moment to look at the card and think about how the little ones have grown, etc. Hanging up the cards around the house helps get me in the Christmas spirit in terms of acknowledging and appreciating all of the friends and family we are privileged to have in our lives.

I disagree with the Slate author. I don't think the Christmas card is dead, because Facebook is something different; it's all about the sender and not the receiver. There is no real receiver. Having said that, however, I don't feel like I can predict what's going to happen in the next 5-10 years. Will people stop sending real Christmas cards? Will something technological come along that actually replaces the feeling of getting envelopes in the mail and admiring the Christmas card in your hand?

If something came along that felt as personal and friendly as a Christmas card, I would probably switch. But I haven't seen it yet.

*Isn't this clip art picture creepy? I think Santa's had a stroke or something; there's just something not quite right with his eyes.


Jonathan said...

We only send cards to people we're not going to see (our parents being the exception to that)...

A lot of the commercialisation of cards (Mothers Day, Fathers Day etc) came from the US in the first place - so I imagine it's not going to vanish any time soon :)

It's also worth remembering that social networks, video calling, email, and so on are still only actively used by a small minority of people in the world - and that small minority tend to presume they represent everybody... journalists are often the worst for doing it.

M. Lubbers said...

Hey now! According to Wikipedia (and a book I'm reading by Bill Bryson) , "The first commercial Christmas cards were commissioned by Sir Henry Cole in London in 1843 and featured an illustration by John Callcott Horsley" to encourage the newly-created penny post. So there!

But I see your point about how we get used to assuming everyone else does everything just like us. Since I do most of my Christmas shopping online, that must mean everyone does! And that's not exactly the case.