Thursday, December 19, 2013

Is Sending Christmas Cards Becoming a Thing of the Past?

When I was younger, I thought it would be fun to work at the Hallmark Company. I imagined a fabulous career writing greeting cards, especially once Shoebox (a tiny little division of Hallmark) was born because it was the home of the funny cards. 

But then I realized my verbose style of writing wouldn’t work for greeting cards. They would’ve lost profits because my cards would’ve been booklets. And there would’ve been a mass shortage of red ink as copy editors took their red pens to my verbiage. 

So, for the sake of an entire industry, I opted not to pursue that career. Besides, I didn’t really want to move to Hallmark’s corporate headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri. At the time, I couldn’t imagine why anyone would voluntarily move to Kansas City, Missouri. What am I saying?  I still can’t imagine moving to Kansas City, Missouri.

(My apologies if you’re from Kansas City, Missouri, or you live there now. I’m sure it’s a lovely place.)

Now, however, I’d be more concerned with the color pink than red, anyway. As in the dreaded pink slip.  I don’t know statistics, but it would be hard to imagine that the greeting card industry hasn’t suffered as a result of the whole social media thing.  Why send a card when you can wish someone Happy Birthday on Facebook? Why send a Christmas card if you can tweet a greeting to all your followers?

I could, of course, make up some statistics to support my claims.  But seeing as how I barely passed Statistics in college, I wouldn’t even know how to make up something believable and/or realistic. 

So let’s just assume that the greeting card industry has suffered. Just like the USPS has suffered. I mean, if you’re not going to buy a card, you don’t need to buy a stamp either.

My proof?  Well, does a sample population of one (me) count?  No?  Too bad.  It does for my purposes.

I used to frequently get cards and letters from family and friends throughout the year. And I used to frequently send cards and letters throughout the year.  Now?  Not so much. 

I used to look forward to Christmas when it was a pleasure to open my mailbox to collect all those fancy envelopes filled with pretty glitter-covered Christmas trees and Santa Clauses and Nativity scenes.  I loved to read all the newsy news and gaze at the enclosed photos from people I care about. It was the one time of the year when personal mail outnumbered junk mail, sales circulars and bills by about a bajillion to one. 

(See?  Bad at statistics.)

But now?  Not so much.  We have received only a smattering of cards from friends and family. We’ve heard more from people who say they are not sending cards any longer.

So it’s a tradition that I fear is heading toward oblivion.

It’s not that I don’t understand why.  I mean, it’s an expensive undertaking, for one thing.  Buying cards in bulk and purchasing multiple books of stamps ain’t cheap.  And it’s time consuming.  Especially for someone like me because I have to write a long letter to add to our cards.

And I have to print out pretty labels because my handwriting is becoming more and more chicken-scratchy as the years pass. (Legible handwriting. Something else that is heading toward oblivion?) 

So I recently bought labels made for laser printers.  Unfortunately, we own an inkjet printer. You’d think it wouldn’t matter all that much, but believe me, it does.  Printing labels for laser printers on an inkjet printer just makes for a smeary mess.  That’d be a sure way to piss off mail carriers all over the country.

So I had to run out and buy the correct labels and start over again.  That was not only expensive, but time consuming as well. The new labels were in a different format, so couldn’t just hit “print.” I had to copy and paste into a whole new document.  Thus, all the pretty little holly and ornament pictures I had added to each label went right out the window.  We were, by that point, going for utilitarian. 

And let’s not even discuss the fact that an hour after I returned home from the office supply store with the new labels, I ran out of ink for my printer and had to go back to the office supply store.

You can imagine how full of Christmas cheer I was by then.

Fortunately, I’d already written the letter to enclose in our cards so it didn’t turn all surly and Grinchish. (Yuh huh, that is too a real word.) 

When I finally printed out all the labels, Vince and I had to sign all the cards and attempt to write a personal note in each card. Sadly, by the time we got to the last few, we were just signing our names and sending silent apologies to those folks.

But we finished them – and they are all in the mail. So we feel a real sense of accomplishment. And, frankly, a sense of relief.

So now we wait for all those “Return to Sender” envelopes where we had the wrong address on the label or the recipient moved and we forgot to change the label. Then we’ll have to find out the correct address and resend the card, which will then arrive closer to Valentine’s Day than Christmas.

Huh. Maybe it’s a tradition that should head toward oblivion.  But still...  If it does, I fear I will feel a sense of loss every December when I head to the mailbox and it will contain only junk mail, sales circulars and bills. 

I’m gonna miss all those glitter-covered Christmas trees.

So Merry Christmas, everyone!  And if you haven’t received our card yet…it’s in the mail. 



  1. Jane. .... very Funny and thought -provoking....well done!

  2. We were one of the "well it's too late now to get cards out this year" people. BUT we did buy pretty cards for next Christmas mailings. We seem to hit it every other year or so. Yes it seems to be a fading practice. I remember sending about 60 each year. But then, I recall thinking coffee would fade with the passing of elderly folks that were my parent's age. But aha, marketers made it cool to younger generations. So, who knows?