This post is an homage to an old friend: the holiday greeting card. The paper kind, that comes to the snail mailbox, in an envelope, with a stamp on it.
I still send them, but the number I send is dwindling, the list cut down by deaths, departures to other places and my friends’ increasing preference for all things e-card.
I always used to enjoy the post-holiday trip to the card stores, to choose cards for the next year. I need three sets: Hanukkah, Christmas, and the ones the greeting card folks refer to as “mixed blessing” cards. Those are the ones you send to families with both Jewish and Christian members, or you send them to people whose religious preferences you don’t know for certain. In the past, you had to get out early on December 26 to find the best picks, or the good cards would be gone.
But now, the good cards are always available. People just don’t send cards anymore. Stamps are “forever” getting more expensive, and then there’s the whole thing about being considerate of the planet and not wasting paper. And why spend the money when you can send an e-greeting quicker?
When I was a kid, the families I knew always taped the cards they received around a living room or kitchen doorway, turning it into a sort of holiday photo frame. It seemed an appropriate way to decorate the inside of a house; warm wishes from friends and loved ones, surrounding the rooms that contained your own loved ones.
I suppose you could print out emailed greetings and tape up those, but they all come out looking like the same sheets of paper, really. Nothing unique or thoughtful or planned about an e-greeting. But it’s still the thought that counts, right?
I know I’m one of the diehards still sending greeting cards. It isn’t about the cards, it’s about the need to connect on some handwritten level that reaches back before now, when communication depends so much on cool, sleek handhelds and tiny earpieces that make us look like we’re talking to ourselves.
It’s an uneasy, unfinished peace that you rest in, my little paper friends.