26 December 2009

Are Christmas Cards Obsolete?

As I peeled the Christmas cards from our fridge and placed them one by one in the garbage can, it occurred to me: Are Christmas cards out-dated? This is bound to offend someone, but I am sticking with it for a minute.

The first Christmas card was sent in the 1840’s in England. They were used to promote propaganda from the Royal Family. Businesses caught on years later and began sending cards to their customers to try to retain a contact. In the War Years, cards were used to promote patriotic feelings among those at home. Dwight D Eisenhower sent the first Christmas cards from the White House, 2000 of them. In 2005, this escalated to 1.4 million. Well, I’ve never received a card from the White House.... Anyway. This brief history was found on multiple websites.

My question for today: what's the point? With the internet and communication abilities now available, a Christmas Card seems a pointless waste of money to me, like buying a pack of baseball cards for the gum? No one does that anymore. (The gum tastes gross and stale anyway.) Christmas cards are not huge expenditures each year, but hanging them on the fridge or door for a few weeks before trashing them seems like an insult to those that spent so much time making them, addressing them, and sending them to everyone on the list. Then when you receive that card from a family or person that you forgot to include, and you hurry and send another card out and hope it gets there before Christmas so you look thoughtful. All this for what? Granted its nice to get a card from a long lost friend, or that person that for whatever reason your communication has decreased to a yearly Christmas card only. This still begs the question, “Why?” Does it ever really reconnect us to each other?

Am I alone in this? I also wonder, do people really care if they don’t get a Christmas card from a particular person? Do you feel slighted? Do you have a checklist of people that you must receive one from? I really want to know if I am alone in these thoughts. Don’t hate me and scratch me off your christmas card list or anything. I’m just saying.

Does anyone actually save these Christmas cards? I admit I have trimmed the family pictures off of a few over the years. Are there actual feelings of guilt when you consider throwing these in the trash? And how long does a christmas card need to be saved? Is there a guideline?

I don’t want to be all negative, I do enjoy the collage created by the mass of cards as we find spots for them on the fridge. It adds to the feelings and thoughts of the season. And perhaps that is the point after all?

I realize this makes me sound like the reincarnated Scrooge. I am not trying to be a bah humbug here by any means. Like I said, I’m just sayin’. Perhaps we send these seasons greeting because it represents tradition. A sense of Christmas duty. A chance for us to show off our good looking kids with a picture. Our Christmas cards the past two years have promoted Disneyland. We should be shareholders.

So are Christmas Cards out-dated? I submit to you, readers, they are.


Kristi Kroeger said...

I think if you blog there is no need to send. But yes, it does annoy me when I know people have sent them out and I didn't get one.

Julia said...

In my opinion, you hit the nail on the head right here:

"It adds to the feelings and thoughts of the season. And perhaps that is the point after all? "

I tape the photo cards up on the wall. I love walking by photos of my friends and family a million times a day while planning for and anticipating Christmas.

I do cut off the Christmas greeting and save the photos after Christmas. And I'm not one who saves much, trust me.

I think there's something to be said for receiving old fashioned snail mail, too. In the era of email, Facebook, blogs, etc. there is something gratifying (to me) about opening a hand addressed Christmas greeting.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I should say that I haven't sent out Christmas cards in about nine years. Oy!

Anonymous said...

I am a sucker for Christmas cards. We have moved a million times and have made many friends from all of the moves, but haven't really stayed in touch, the Christmas cards are our pathetic attempt to keep those links. I hang all of mine up, I don't save them, but I do enjoy them and get giddy when I see real mail in my box.

Danielle said...

I literally gasped when you said you threw them away. I am a total pack-rat though, so I guess my opinion might not count.

I also love getting mail and love seeing hard copies of all my friends and family. I don't feel bad when I don't get a Christmas card from someone - I just scratch them off my list for next year. ;)

Natalie said...

I didn't get a Christmas card from the White House either, but I DID send a wedding invite to the Clinton's back in 1996, and a got a polite "decline and congratulation" sent to me, signed by the Clinton's (computer signatures, I'm sure. But cool, none the less).

I love mail. I love Christmas cards and letters. It makes me feel popular and loved. But no, I don't save them.

Julie said...

I think it is nice to get something in the mail that is not a bill or solicitaion for money.

I personally did not have time for cards this year, but liked the ones I got. They make me feel like those people personally wanted to say Merry Christmas to me. It's a warm fuzzy for the season. But like you, threw them all in the trash yesterday.

Aimee said...

I have mixed feelings about the whole issue of Christmas cards. I was laughing at my own from last year as I went through my Christmas binder (yes, I have a binder that I keep lists of everything in. Lists of who and what.. neighbor gifts, sister gifts, cousin exchange gifts, parents gifts.. and addresses for those that I send cards to).

So here's my process - I like to send them to people like my grandma in St. George and Jer's grandmas because none of them have a computer and we only see them a few times a year. But, most poeple that I care to stay in touch with, I have anyway without having to send them a card with a "year in review."

I agree with Julia, too, that we should do our part to keep the USPS in business. There is something about getting "real" mail in the mailbox. I usually throw them away. I'm a nerd though and I keep the one's I want to copy in the future.

I found one of those "year in review" cards from Lynnette from about 8 or 9 years ago that I saved. It was pretty entertaining to read and to see that she only had 2 kids back then. Maybe I should keep them all..

See.. I don't really know if I like or dislike the whole concept. I do. I think.

Stacie said...

Alright, I decided I would put in my 2 cents worth here...
I love Christmas cards and the letters that accompany them. There is something to be said about wishing your friends and family a Merry Christmas. Though I have to say, I'm a bit of a grump about the photo cards. Not to offend anyone, because I know they are the "thing" to do these days. But I like the "Family Update" I love to find out what everyone has been doing this year, especially those who don't have a blog for me to read. When I receive a Picture of a family in the mail it is disappointing to me. After all, it isn't a Christmas card at all, it is a Christmas photo (or collage of photo's). I love old fashioned cards - with a family update inside, of course. Though, don't get me started on the "brag letters". You know the ones. The 'My children are so much smarter, and cuter than yours'. They make me gag!
Anyway, I guess generally I love Christmas Cards and I hope to always continue sending and receiving them. :-)

Stephanie said...


No, they are not outdated. See, that's the problem, I dare say, with this new technologically advanced generation. People don't take the TIME (to write, address, take picture, print) and MONEY (to mail) to send REAL notes anymore. It's all e-mail, facebook, txt, tweets, or whatever the heck they are all called. Our generation, and the one after us, is forgetting how to truly connect with each other, in a REAL, HUMAN way. Nothing chaps me more than when I get an E-MAILED Christmas card. To me, it's the effort, time, and thought that someone took to send me a card that counts. Clicking 'send' to the massive list in your address book takes no effort at all... and no thought, no personal touch.

I will continue to send Christmas cards, and sign each one by hand. Throw it away, if you will. I do keep them. I cut out every picture of every family and put them in our "family journal" that I keep. It's so fun to look back at them from years past.

I hope my friends will continue to send them, too. I love to get them in the mail. I love to see the cute pictures, and read the updates. I think it's one of the best parts of the season to catch up with long lost friends.

So there ya go, Simons! You asked for it.:)