Monday, December 20, 2010

I'm dreaming of a full mailbox: Acknowledging the slow death of the Christmas card tradition

I don't get very many Christmas cards any more, and I refuse to take it personally.

I choose instead to blame it on the economy and the internet.

Also, I guess the axiom of reaping what you sew also seems appropriate.

I used to send out Christmas cards religiously, so to speak.

But times change.

Back in the day, I sent about 50 Christmas cards, complete with detailed Year in Review letters.

But then the magic of sending Christmas cards was slapped with the Scroogy open hand of pragmatism.

I did a bit of math, and came to the conclusion that, between purchasing cards and postage, it was costing approximately $120 to send out Christmas cards.

The internet solved the financial dilemma.

So for several years, instead of sending cards with a letter stuffed inside, I opted for sending out a holiday email, which featured the highlights of a fictional, fabricated family: the Seracinos.

In her Christmas letter (which I channeled), Jackie Seracino vigilantly recounted the year's highlights of her kids Billy and Sue - classic underachievers -  as well as observations about her inattentive, problem-addled husband Stan. The Seracinos' dysfunction is their charm. But Jackie looked through the black. She consistently, lovingly annually painted her family with the warm watercolor beauty of holiday optimism.

I created the Seracinos because I figured that my manufactured family was much more interesting than what I could come up with about my own clan. And over the years, I grew to love the Seracinos.

Making up a family was so much fun. But admittedly, I haven't even done that for a few years.

So. I dropped the shiny Christmas card ball.

I'd like to assume the dearth of holiday cards I get is a reflection of the times. Spending a ton of money on sending out cards has become discretionary, and there are a ton of websites that offer a wide range of holiday cards for free.

People are busy. Times change. Priorities shift.

And maybe some folks took umbrage to the spirit of the Seracinos. Who knows.

Maybe some have opted out of sending Christmas cards because cards and their requisite envelopes produce a huge amount of waste, unless you're a hoarder, and you keep every card you've ever received.

Christmas cards, at least in my world, seem to be going in the direction of land line telephones, soap operas and being referred to as Ma'am instead of Miss.

Oddly, those realities don't make me feel better. Because my mailbox has lost the magical sparkle it had when it was filled each day with warm holiday wishes. Now I have nothing to look forward to when it comes to my mailbox but the inevitable trickle of bills and junk mail.

I certainly don't want to take it personally.

Admittedly, I love getting Christmas cards.

I look forward to digging my mail out of the box, especially this time of year, and I love every card that's shuffled among the bills and junk. I have a few days to go before Christmas, so I'll be dreaming of a white Christmas and a full mail box.

I get the feeling that Christmas card nostalgia has become just that. I love my trips to the mail box, but I have the sense that receiving a profusion of cards in these odd, tumultuous times is the definition of a Christmas miracle.

But I can dream....


  1. I've noticed that the retail shops don't even have as many Christmas cards for sale as they used to; so I think sending them has gone by the wayside. Maybe in a few years though, as you note, it will come back as a nostalgia thing! Well, I can always hope.

  2. I completely agree! There's something psychologically soothing about getting real-live, tangible, tactile mail in the mailbox!!