Thursday, December 9, 2010

Out with the Old?

One of the things I did when I was trying to clear out some of the clutter in the garage was to throw out a box of old Christmas cards. This was not easy as I’m one of those “saver” types and will save basically anything that is addressed to me, including pizza coupons and ads for new siding installation.

Okay, not really. But I do save all my birthday, Christmas and thank you cards – pretty much anything that is from an actual person I know. I save it until there is just too much clutter and I get aggravated and I go on a tossing rampage. Which is what happened last week.

Sometimes when I’m cleaning, I’ll come across a box filled with cards or – gasp! – an actual letter from someone – and I will stop myself from tossing it. If I’m not terribly focused I might even start reading the cards and letters, which is a fun way to while away some time, but is not so great when you’re trying to make some headway in the cleaning process.

This got me to thinking about our sending out Christmas cards – a project Vince and I finished up last weekend. We sent out about 100 cards and included one of those generic Christmas letters in each one. It’s the second week of December and we have received exactly two cards in return.

Now, maybe it’s just payback for writing that generic Christmas letter…but I sort of doubt it. It could be that people haven’t bought enough stamps. Or maybe the only cards they have at home are some ratty thank you cards left over from their wedding 10 years ago, which won’t work so well for a Christmas card unless they draw a pretty fir tree over the words “thank you” and throw some glitter on the thing. Or – I don’t know – maybe it comes down to either buying us a Christmas card – or buying their kid an Xbox 360.

Yeah, we pretty much have no shot at getting a Christmas card from that person, do we?

So is the whole process of sending out Christmas cards becoming another one of those antiquated rituals that is slowly going the way of the dinosaur? Are we holding on to the way it has always been? With emails and blogs and Twitter and social media sites like Facebook, is sending out actual cards to family and friends a waste of time and money?

I’m sort of on the fence about it. I wouldn’t mind letting the whole costly and time-consuming process go by the wayside. But I also love writing actual letters to folks or sending cards through the mail.

Yet I have to admit that I’m sending far fewer cards and letters than I have sent in the past. I send emails instead. Or I figure people can read my blog and find out what’s going on with me since I pretty much detail our days as we go along.

Plus, since I pay all my bills online and I don’t buy stamps on a regular basis anymore, it’s a little difficult to send a snail-mail letter. I’m guessing that the Post Office frowns on affixing a smiley face sticker where the 44 cent stamp is supposed to go.

Besides, sending out cards during the holidays isn’t cheap – first you have to buy the cards and then you have to buy the stamps for each one and then the paper for each letter and also the labels (because ain’t no way I’m writing out 100 addresses and 100 return addresses!).

And I’m sure the "green" people would say we could save a coupla trees by not performing this annual ritual.

So maybe we should all agree to stop sending cards to each other during the holidays. (As Hallmark faints…and the USPS frantically makes plans to hike the cost of a first class stamp to a buck forty…)

The thing is… I really do love getting cards in the mail. It’s so nice to discover a hand-written envelope amid the sales circulars and credit card solicitations. With all the hype about the holidays and the rush of shopping, cooking, baking, decorating, wrapping, socializing and all that – stopping for a moment to open a card from a relative or a friend is a wonderful little time out – and if they’ve included a generic Christmas letter with it, it’s that much more of a bonus.

For now I guess we’ll keep on sending out our annual Christmas cards. But lemme tell you…I’m willing to revisit this subject again next year before we start on the process. Especially if those two cards are the only two cards we receive all season. It’s not all about “getting” – but we’re not going to be the only ones “giving” either!

So what do you think? Are you sending out cards this year?

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