Simplification or Scroogification?

For the first time in over 20 years, I didn’t send Christmas cards this year.

I managed to send out client “holiday” cards, as I have every year I’ve been in business for myself (and am more than a little concerned because so few clients acknowledged them — I think it’s a sign of bad things to come in the new year.)

But the personal cards, purchased last year on sale after Christmas, never made it out of the box, even though I printed out address labels and asked Mike to buy me two books of the Botticelli Christmas stamps. Mike, ever-vigilant, mailed out some cards to his family and friends, but me…nada.

I’ve been torn about it. I enjoy getting cards — especially from friends who have kids and send pictures. I even like those newsy-letters that some people think are braggy. I tend to admire what other people are able to accomplish, and how else do you know what people are up to?

In my head, I chalked it up to “simplification.” But was it really “Scroogification”? Others complained that Thanksgiving was later this year, so they lost time in their Christmas prep. I agree; I just couldn’t seem to squeeze in cards between decorating the house and making cookies and wrapping and shopping. But really, I couldn’t drum up the enthusiasm for it either. Why do people care if they get a card, just a card, from Mike and me? No cute kid photos, no real news, just our names and a brief, “Hope you are well. Happy 2009!” message. Especially now with e-mail, and the ease of keeping in touch with people all year long, the cards just don’t seem as important.

But still, it bothers me. Am I too willing to let old friendships and acquaintanceships slide for lack of a few minutes’ time and less than $20 in postage? Is it one more social nicety falling by the wayside in our too-busy, too-preoccupied world? I, too, received fewer cards this year — why? Too expensive? Too little time? Just seemed pointless?

Maybe this year was just an anomaly in my 20 years of card sending. Or maybe it’s the year that cards became a thing of the past. In either case, it’s worth noting.

I’m still torn. I hope friends and family seeing this know that I’m thinking about you and happy to get your cards and photos. I do wish you the best of health and happiness in the new year, and hope our paths cross beyond a simple end-of-year card.

Oh! (lightbulb clicks on) Maybe that’s really the point of it all — knowing that our paths aren’t likely to cross in the new year, or maybe any year, and our annual Christmas card exchange is our only way of saying, “Hey, I’m still out here and I still remember you…fondly.”

With that in mind, I’m rethinking this whole thing…I think I need to be shopping for some Happy New Year cards. After all, I’m still out here and I still remember you…fondly.

If a man does not make new acquaintances as he
advances through life, he will soon find himself alone. 
A man should keep his friendships in constant repair. 
                                                     ~ Samuel Johnson


  1. THE CHAPPIES said,

    Monday, December 29, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    It is always sad when traditional customs decline. The establishment of an efficient postal system during the 19th century encouraged the exchange of Christmas cards as a means of keeping in touch with family and friends. Who does not love the vast array of modern cards, both humorous and evocative? It is selfish to deprive the recipient of the joy of finding Christmas greetings waiting in the daily post. Each card is like a small present personally chosen by the sender and waited for with great anticipation. To neglect a highlight of the holiday season is a breach of civility in an increasingly uncivilized world. Are we really ever too busy to bring Christmas joy? Christmas comes but once a year! Bearing this in mind one has 364 days in which to prepare one’s greeting cards. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  2. WritingbyEar said,

    Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Chappies — point well taken. By now you have received my Happy New Year (and thank you) card. Did I cheat by combining them? Oh well…at least I tried!

  3. Facie said,

    Friday, January 16, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    I wrote about Christmas letters in one of my posts in December. This year, we received A LOT fewer (cards and letters). I think most people did not send them because of money. Others were too busy. Perhaps some people feel as I used to, that if the only time you can make for someone all year is to mail a card (often not even signed), then why bother.

    But my feelings have since changed. Many people are busy. I have finally accepted that some people that I used to be friends with are now just acquaintances, someone whom I will be tied to only by a once-a-year card or letter. And that is better than nothing. As for the money, which I totally understand, I am hopeful I won’t let what probably amounts to about $35 in cards and stamps stop me from continuing to send out cards. If I lose my job/we run into money issues, then I am pretty sure I will be all about the e-card. But still that.

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