Sending Christmas cards is a tradition that gets our stamp of approval
Published 12:08 pm Tuesday, December 13, 2022
It’s an old tradition, but sending Christmas cards is a way to keep in touch.
For many, Christmas cards have outlived their usefulness. With the proliferation of video chatting, texting, blogging and social media, there’s no longer the need to keep friends and family updated in a yearly letter.
In the early 2000s, Americans mailed about two billion Christmas cards annually, according to data provided to MarketWatch by Hallmark. By 2015, those numbers had plummeted to 1.18 billion (although over the last three years there has been a steady uptick).
The same factors causing their overall decline, make them more important than ever — and could explain their recent resurgence. The niche they once occupied is a niche no more, but they still offer something essential — and rare.
Depending on how you define a Christmas card, they could date back to 15th-century Germany or early 20th-century New York City, Nashville, Philadelphia, or Cincinnati. Their precise origin, however, isn’t as important as recognizing the many modern forms Christmas cards have taken.
There’s the single photo with the “Season’s greetings from the Smiths!” caption; there’s the family newsletter; there’s the greeting card variety; and there’s the homemade type that school children make from construction paper and glitter.
Remember when you were younger, and they lined the mantel at Christmastime or were attached to a door facing or the wall? They were mostly boxed Christmas cards with a generic message. That’s really not the case anymore as today’s Christmas card consumers are looking for something not generic, but something very personal. Consumers are purchasing with somebody specifically in mind, plus, Christmas cards are much more personal than an email that you can copy and paste.
Sending Christmas cards take effort. It requires writing, printing, buying, making, mailings. It forces us to do something as annoying to our silicon sensibilities as licking envelopes and visiting the post office. Rather than a bland slab of paper, that’s what you’re really sending when you send a Christmas card: your time. And that’s one holiday gift in short supply.
The true Christmas card saints write a newsy personal letter and enclose it inside a printed or a hand-made card. These people must spend hours, days or weeks writing those individual heartfelt greetings. The time involved with sending this type of greeting resulted in the advent of the computer generated newsletter. Like them or not, they are coming your way during the holiday season. I do prefer receiving them in an envelope with my name on the front, but there is an indication that the cost of postage stamps will eventually result in bypassing the post office entirely and sending them via e-mail. It is only a matter of time!
Christmas is a great time for remembering so let us not disparage those who make sending and receiving personal greetings a special part of the Holiday Season. Too, there’s something special about a handwritten note — love, including a special memory and a special wish for the recipient. It’s always nice to receive a thoughtful note in the mail instead of just junk.