OPINION: Christmas cards these days are gift or charge

Does anyone still send out Christmas cards? I know I don’t and haven’t for years although when most people my age were growing up, it was a holiday ritual not only to send them but to receive them. Of course, postage stamps were a lot cheaper back then and we didn’t have the option of instant gratification through e-mail.
But I remember many Christmases when you could judge how well someone was liked or thought of by how many colorful cards were on display around their homes. If you visited someone’s home where you had to move cards off the toilet seat to use the bathroom, you knew you were safe. If, however, you got invited to a home with just a few cards standing on the fireplace mantle, you didn’t drink the egg nog.
I’ve only received one Christmas card so far this season, and it turned out to be from my insurance agent. So I guess there’s no need for me to stock up on egg nog.
I guess we’re all too busy these days to go through the hassle of picking out Christmas cards, sitting down to write a personal message to the recipient using a pen and not a computer, tracking down addresses, buying stamps and putting the cards in the mail. Currier and Ives, if they weren’t dead, would be depressed. But it is so much easier to simply go online, pick out an e-card, perhaps even an animated one, click on your e-mail address book and send it on it’s merry digital way. And think of all the postal workers’ backs and how many trees you’ll be saving.
Of course, you won’t be able to impress your friends with how many Christmas cards you received when they come to visit for the holidays, unless, of course, you print them all out and stand them around your house. And if you do encounter someone who does that, I’d still advise not drinking the egg nog.
It’s easy to blame new technology, rising postal rates and a dwindling amount of free time for the demise of the Christmas card but I think there’s probably a guiltier motive for giving them up. If you send, you expect to receive.
I can recall many times growing up when a card would arrive in the mail from someone who wasn’t on our Christmas card list sparking a last-minute scramble to find an extra card in the house to reciprocate with and a mad dash to the post office in the hope that it would at least arrive at its destination by New Year’s.
So I don’t think many of us are really that sad to see the Christmas card tradition fade away, except maybe Hallmark and the U.S. Postal Service. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll have an egg nog and check my e-mail.
Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 222 Farley Hall, University MS 38677 or by e-mail at marusse1@olemiss.edu.

Marty Russell

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