The World of Holiday Greetings Has Changed

For the last several years, a friend and I have gotten together every December to address Christmas cards and catch up over tea. She still writes at least two dozen, while my output has dwindled to less than 10.

I used to love Christmas cards. I tended to indulge in the expensive ones printed on high quality paper, the ones with artistic designs or humorous sentiments. Sometimes I bogged down with signing them and getting them to the Post Office, but I always got them out before New Year’s.

While doing business as Ellen Shriner Communications, I began handcrafting holiday cards to send to ad agency and marketing clients. Instead of dropping off clever client gifts or food treats (a common practice in the communications world), I made a charitable donation in my clients’ honor and hoped the cards would remind clients about my creative work. I also sent the cards to close family and friends.

Every year, I wandered the aisles of the now-defunct Paper Depot and let the stamps, vellums, fine cotton card stock, and gorgeous imported papers inspire me. For a month, I holed up in my office planning, writing, printing, cutting, gluing, and assembling 50-60 cards. Many years, I made several versions because I was attracted to multiple ideas, and it was fun to experiment.

The card with red ribbon involved dried flowers from my garden. For the one on the far right, I drew ornaments in watercolor. For the one in the center, I hand cut starbursts with an Exacto knife so the gold vellum would show through.

By the end of 2010, I was winding down my business and had accepted a hospital marketing job. I could have continued making the cards for family and friends, but handcrafting cards no longer gave me as much pleasure, and the world of holiday greetings had changed.

For many people, sending Christmas cards had become just one more thing on a long To Do list. Friends and family were relieved to let go of the tradition. Often the cards I received seemed to be guilt-induced (Dang! She sent me one. Now I need to reciprocate), and I didn’t want to cause that discomfort.

For me, Christmas cards had been a way to stay connected with out-of-town family or friends I rarely saw. Often the cards summed up how the year had gone, and that ritual reflection felt worthwhile.

Now a yearly missive is less important. Calling is so cheap and immediate that the most important people in my life already know what’s going on. As a writer, I’m at the keyboard most days and can dash off a quick email to friends. Social media has made it easy to stay in touch with an extended group of people.

Maybe one day I’ll rediscover the creative fun of playing with fine papers, glue, and an Exacto knife. But this year, I’ll sign a few store-bought cards and write a handful of personal notes. Of course, nothing replaces visiting in person, especially over a cup of tea!

To all of our blog readers: the WordSisters send lots of affection and appreciation for our connection. Happy Holidays!

4 thoughts on “The World of Holiday Greetings Has Changed

  1. I still love sending and receiving Christmas cards (although I don’t make my own), but I know it is a trend that is fading fast. Personally, I don’t get offended if I send someone a card and they don’t send one back. It’s a personal choice for all of us, and I would never want someone to feel as if they have to send me a card. But you’re right, sometimes people do feel obligated when they receive a card….

  2. I have mixed feelings about the change in card giving. While I miss the dozens of cards that added to my Christmas decor, and the sentiments they evoked, I also realize that folks seemingly have less time and don’t feel the need to communicate via snail mail, when telecommunications are so much easier. The Gen-Xers send photo cards of them and the kids, which I keep on the fridge, and love to see the changes year to year. No artistic cards for them. 🙂 I have a few friends in other states that I never see and rarely communicate with that I like to catch up with via letter, but ever year, there seems to be less of that. It will be a sad year when there aren’t any more cards to grace my window casing.
    As long as I still have food, fun and fellowship during the holiday season, I’ll be fine.

    • With paper cards, you can reread them and show others easily, unlike calls or Facebook likes. But fellowship, food, and fun are the essence for me too.

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