Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Thoughts of Christmas Present - The Death of the Christmas Card

I'm currently in Oklahoma City, at my daughter and son-in-law's house, getting a good dose of playing with Ephraim, and reconnecting with the Internet. From Dec 22 to 27 we were in Meade, Kansas, staying at Lynda's cousin's house. She has only a direct connect modem. Her mom, who lives next door, has a wireless network, and we could connect to that. I was planning on making a post on Christmas day, but her computer decided to go on a permanent vacation that day. Apparently a cable modem and wireless router are not enough, and we lost Internet service. I suppose I could have gone to the truck stop the next day, or to a hotel parking lot, but we were too busy playing Rummycube and Scrabble and visiting an old ranch and other such things. So here I am, a couple of days late, taking advantage of Ephraim taking his nap to fire this off.

This year we sent out 76 Christmas cards, not including one to each other. I think five were distributed personally, not mailed. Another two could have been as well. Two cards we sent last year were not necessary this year, due to deaths in the family. We dropped a couple of others due to many years of not hearing back. That total is down from about 125 cards a decade ago. Glad to save the postage, but it started me wondering.

What really set me wondering, however, is the lack of cards received. Granted we hadn't received mail since Dec 22, but I think we had received a total of 16 cards up till then. That includes the one from my company and two from fund raising organizations to which we contribute. I'd like to see what the final count is, and when it's in I'll post a comment to this. I suspect it will be around 25 incoming, maybe as many as 30.

Is the Christmas card dead? Or almost so? Sometimes I wonder if Lynda and I are the only ones who still bother with this old tradition. I remember my parents getting cards in the 1960s. Dad stretched red ribbon up and down the secretary in the dining room and clipped the cards to it. When he ran out of room there, he put them on string stretched in the wide archway between the living and dining room. When he ran out of room there, he put them somewhere, or maybe just in piles on a table. Of course, back then postage was 5 cents, and cards probably 15 cents or less.

So what's happened? We now have many more ways to keep in touch. Telephone is cheap. It used to be a long distance call cost so much that you saved them for holidays only. Now we can talk to a loved one every day and never feel the cost. We have twitter and facebook and skype and e-mail. We are more connected than ever before. We don't need to wait for an annual Christmas card with a quickly penned note, "We are all well. Uncle Theo passed away in October." Now we know about Uncle Theo within moments of his passing.

I guess I don't regret the loss of the Christmas card. Getting 76 done is a whole lot easier than 125. It's been 27 years since we left Saudi Arabia, and I guess it was inevitable that we'd lose track of all those people sooner or later. Lives seem to be busier, though lots of it is self-generated busyness. We couldfind time for Christmas cards if we wanted to, but don't.

I think next year I may chop the number down to about 65 cards, pocket the change, and put it towards a new laptop.


Gary said...

We gave up the hassle years ago. Never had the interest in writing an enclosed letter and I never could figure the point of sending a card without a message. With yours we got four this year - a record low. You can drop us and save the postage. Electrons are easier to push than wood pulp.

David A. Todd said...

Will do, Gary. Next year will be at most 75, and probably more like 64.

Gary said...

The wife has a new idea this year: send out "New Year" cards. You will be one of the select few to receive.

David A. Todd said...

The incoming card count is up to 21, including Gary's NY card.