The Year Without a Christmas Card

Thursday, December 22, 2011
In 1843, Englishman Sir Henry Cole "invented" the Christmas card as a means of distributing holiday wishes more easily to his friends and contacts. Cut to the year 2011. Is anyone still sending--or receiving--seasonal cards? Thanks to the Internet, the Christmas card seems to be on its way out, sadly. I've really noticed the difference this season. I've only gotten a few. To be fair, I've only sent a few. Along with e-communications making it more convenient to post or send greetings online, it's also less time consuming. With physical cards you have to look up people's addresses, think of a thoughtful message to write, and stamp the cards. It isn't much, but more work than typing in an email address and punching the send button. Then there's the fact that many people won't send a card to a particular contact unless they regularly receive one from them.

Kind of a shame, even though I'm just as guilty of contributing to the holiday card shortage. Growing up, I looked forward to seeing the many colorful cards that my parents received. My mother would tape them to the wall in the entryway so that visitors could see them when they entered. This year, she has about 5 or 6 up when decades ago the entire wall would be filled.

How about you? Did you send--or receive--any holiday cards this season?


  1. Its a shame this great holiday ritual seems to be fading. I guess I know I've gotten older when I start seeing things that I've enjoyed go away, and I miss them! As for me, I certainly did send many Christmas cards this year, and got some too. I guess I'll be perfectly fine with being among those "die hards" who keep doing something notwithstanding how nostalgic it may seem.

    Merry Christmas, Pam, and best wishes with this excellent blog and everything else in the new year ahead!!

  2. Lazlo--good for you for keeping up with the tradition! Last year I made glitter cards a la Martha Stewart but this year just couldn't get motivated enough. I guess it's a sign of the times when traditions we grew up start to decline. Thanks for the Christmas wishes and same to you! Here's to a great 2012!

  3. I'm still sending Christmas cards *and* addressing them in pen and ink! I deliver them to the post office while wearing my fedora. How's that for embracing obsolete traditions?

  4. I was just thinking about this very thing--up until the last couple years, I used to mail out around 50 cards a year, always a day-long Sunday project, a couple weeks after Thanksgiving.

    (In fact I had an 'A List' & 'B List', each year my mom would call me--"I'm still on your A list, right?!")

    Anyway--I only mailed out 12 cards this year, and to be honest it's not a tradition I miss that much. But like you Pam, growing up my mom would tape all the cards up and down our front staircase and doorframes...God back in the 70's it seemed like we got a couple hundred!

    Well, I hope Christmas trees don't go anywhere anytime soon! ;) Merry Christmas Pam!

  5. I tape them to the wall over our gas fireplace. I only get about 15 - most of them from work colleagues, etc. I think I only sent out about 1 dozen. I spend the extra money to buy my mom and brother the cutsie cards because they get such a thrill from it. Most people don't even write a message in the card anymore, just your name and their name don't you find? Merry Christmas to you, keep up the fabulous blog!
    There's a house I walk by that has about 50 or more cards on display and I couldn't figure out how this guy had so many cards, and then I remembered he works for the post office!

  6. We have not gotten many this year - my parents, my aunt and one of my cousins. That's about it. I think the high cost of postage is an issue too, plus the price on cards. We don't ever mail things any more - too much of a hassle. I am happy with a Tweet, an email or a Facebook post.

  7. I only mailed a few this year. Just to both my aunts, and I got cards for my co-workers. I think the points Pam made in her post are valid; I also think the cards they make these days are godawful. When I was shopping at Target, they had a ton of these "humorous" cards, which left me cold. Even worse are the "sexy" cards, many of which I would be embarrassed to give to a girlfriend. I'd expect to be slapped if I used some of the lines I saw in these cards.

    The Post Office plays a role too. Last year, my aunt in WV sent me a card; it finally arrived about 2 weeks into January--in several pieces. It is sad to see the tradition go though.

  8. I received many online cards, some of which were stunning; even our church got in on the act. I'm sure that saved a ton of postage (which is why USPS is struggling). I think in the past that Christmas cards were like the Valentines you used to get as a kid, they were mass produced and it was really based on reciprocity, you send me one, I'll send you one. Last year, I found hand made cards at Costco that were a huge hit, some of them are pop outs or interactive in some form and people always comment on the lovely card we send. The postage is high, hand made cards are generally heavier and require extra postage, but for 30 chances of being remembered for spreading a little Christmas cheer, I'll willingly spend it. Merry Christmas Pam, to you and yours.

  9. I get a card from my pen pals in Germany and Russia I've had since I was 14 and a Yule card from a friend of mine, like every year. That's it. My grandpa forgets that I'm in my mid 30's with a house of my own.

    I buy a few really nice cards and send them, since all I ever send is 4 or 5. I live so close to the in laws and my parents that it's silly to do, and the rest of my family dislikes me so it's a waste of time and money.

    I take what I would have spent on the cards and postage and buy some gifts for the men that live at the VA all the time. While it puts me in the "if I don't get one back" camp, I'd rather spend my energy on people that I like rather then out of an obligation of circumstance of birth.

  10. I hear you Pam, the tradition does seem to be fading. We used to get so many. One year there were about 40 cards and Mum taped them to the wall in a pretty design. I miss those days. They're so few and far between these days. That said, I did send out cards and received a few as well. But it's definitely not like in the past.

    Love how moms seem to come blessed innately with the talent of decorating and arranging Christmas cards in our childhood homes. :)

  11. Tom--you sound like a true retro soul!

    Doug--I think 12 cards is a LOT relatively speaking especially by today's standards. I hope the Christmas tree can't be eliminated with technology, unless someone invents a realistic 3D holographic one someday.

    MyLittleCorner-yes, very true...the only people who write a little message is my aunt and other relatives from my mother's side.

    Martin-I hear the price of stamps could go up again, especially with the post office's financial state. The Internet has definitely contributed to that.

    JZ-I've had things arrive in the mailbox practically ripped to shreds. I do think some of those sexy Christmas cards are pretty damn funny, though!

    dryheat45-I used to send out cards designed by MOMA that had pop outs and bright colors, and friends have told me they saved them because they were so cool looking.

    sewducky-It's nice that you make a donation to the local VA.

    Chelly-yes, it seems displaying cards was an universal tradition!

    Thank you for the holiday wishes, everyone--I hope Santa was good to you all!

  12. It's so sad that not many people do this anymore. One of the many things I looked forward to was surprisingly this tradition. My parents used to do it, and I still continue doing it.
    But I guess people forget the thought and look more at the gift. Times are changing after all, and hopefully, for the better.

    Merry Christmas! :)

  13. I sent out 20 some cards less this year, about 60 total. I think that Facebook is keeping close friends and family up to date making the need for a holiday card signed by a sender almost a relic. Still I will continue to send some cards out in 2012 but to lesser number of people. But don't you find it exciting to receive anything in the mail that isn't a bill or ppolitical ad?


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