Back in the good old days when I was growing up, Christmas cards were a big deal. My mother started signing and addressing stacks of them just after Thanksgiving. She must have sent two hundred! I’d offer my help by licking the stamps, placing the special Christmas series ever so carefully in the upper right corners of the green and red envelopes.
Each card we received was immediately taped to the long wall in our kitchen, serving as both a festive decoration and a reminder of how fond others were of us. My sisters and I would take our time browsing each neat row, oohing over the sparkly ones that dripped silver glitter onto our fingers.
When I grew up and had my own family, I carried on this tradition for a long time, until I began to notice a trend a few years back. My door frames and fireplace mantle, which were always overflowing with photo cards and Christmas letters, were noticeably thinning with each consecutive year. I pared my card list from a hundred to fifty. Then thirty. Then sixteen. Twelve. Seven. Then none.
Though the Christmas cards and annual update letters are no longer a part of our family tradition, it is still for millions of families around the world. I’m actually ok with giving up the card exchange, here’s a few reasons why.
Less holiday stress: My husband and I would spend several hours a night over a week’s time individualizing and addressing the cards. When we graduated to the photo cards it become a little easier, but we spent more money. Inevitably there was the card that came Christmas Eve day. I didn’t send them one! I kicked myself for crossing that friend of my list. I felt like a jerk. Now that I don’t send any I feel much less stressed.
We have a smaller circle of extended family and friends: Christmas cards were a way to say hi to friends and relatives who we didn’t see on a regular basis. And, when our boys and our friends’ children were small it was fun to see how much they changed in a year’s time. Now that most of my aunts and uncles have passed away and our boys are venturing into adulthood, it’s time for new traditions. Also, even though we said we would, it has been hard to stay in touch with friends who have moved.
It’s a digital world: Why send handwritten snail mail cards when I can stay in touch with everyone digitally? I can post pics online and text you all with instant delivery! It costs nothing but a small time investment, and it’s good for the environment. Or I could use a free online card service such as 123 Greetings, Blue Mountain, or Canva.
Is the traditional physical Christmas card approaching extinction? Hallmark says no way, but in my home it’s now history. It’s ok if you cross me off your paper card list. But please add me to your digital one. However you and I choose, it is a good thing to find a way to stay in touch.