Salt Lake newspaper columnist, Robert Kirby wrote this week that he and his wife received only 15 Christmas cards this year, down 28 percent from last year and 77 percent from 10 years ago. Oh, and did I mention that the U.S. Postal Service is in financial trouble?
I count Christmas cards differently. I separate the relatives whose main reason for sending a card is to ensure you don’t forget them when it comes time to send a wedding gift when their children or grandchildren get married.
Then I deduct the cards that aren’t mailed, usually from co-workers or neighbors who attached a sugar cookie to the card and handed it to me out of sense of obligation.
Finally I subtract those cards from business vendors. “Merry Christmas – and remember to buy from me next year” – is hardly a worthy nod to the birth of the Christ child.
That leaves us with a handful of cards, generally equating to how many friends we have. And all of these are my wife’s friends, proof that one doesn’t chalk up friendships by writing columns for newspapers.
Actually, I don’t take it personally. Unfortunately, we live in a non-personal world where the written letter or even a notecard is as uncommon as a Utah Democrat.
We have traded the personally handwritten letter for the cold e-mail – one business associate sent out an e-mail Christmas card, about as personal as the silly paper inside a fortune cookie!
E-mail is easier, or course. But then I never thought friendships would be greased by their convenience.
And I can’t buy the argument that postage rates are the culprit. A few pennies increase on 50 Christmas cards totals one buck; if $1 impacts your lifestyle, I suggest you rethink your career, the family budget and the brand of pet food for your cat.
When it comes to Christmas cards, a short handwritten note is welcome – but please don’t include a family history of the year’s bragging rights.
For once I would like to receive a card where the parents honestly report that their children are not curing cancer or succeeding in their sixth year of medical school or being promoted to vice president of an insurance company.
I’d like to see this one:
“Shirley is doing well and we think she has this rehab thing licked…Bill is getting on our nerves, but hopefully he’ll find solid employment this year and move out of our basement…and as for our grandchild Debbie, the teacher is predicting she’ll be allowed back in the class after the principal receives a check for full restitution.”
As a child, I can still remember the thrill of receiving a package with my name on it – a monthly “book-of-the-month.” I can still recall the pleasure later in life when my father wrote me a personal letter, evaluating my progress as a human being.
Today, I look forward to opening letters from readers.
We need more communication in life, and the struggles of the Post Office are not a positive sign. Technology is cold comfort when compared to writing from the heart, and putting a first-class stamp on an envelope.