Social Media Killed the Holiday Card?

BlogHer Original Post
Pile of Christmas cards and letters sits on table

I used to send out holiday cards every year, religiously. Friends and family were far-flung, and the once-a-year opportunity to reach out, to wish them well, to show off my kids (yeah, I said it), and to check in, was something I relished. It was a ritual I looked forward to, and as the cards started arriving from folks in the mail I was always pleased to know I'd reciprocated appropriately.

But one year... well, money was tight, so I skipped the cards. I tried to make it up the next year. And then a couple of years later, life was just so busy, you know? We skipped it again. This year, we're already into December and I have no cards and no plans for cards. Time just got away from me.

On the one hand: I do absolutely no correspondence via paper mail, anymore. I use email for everything. I don't even mail my bills; I use electronic banking. And why must I send a missive and a picture of my kids this particular month of the year, anyway? If we're truly important to each other, you probably read my blog, and/or we're friends on Facebook, and/or we email on a semi-regular basis. It's not like I'm stranded in the Yukon in the era of the telegram; we're in touch, already. Or if we're not, and I'm suddenly feeling nostalgic, I can reach and out touch you, digitally, in less time than it will take me to write this post. The entire concept of paper holiday cards feels kind of passe and a waste of trees, to me, when I think about it in this context.

On the other hand: Holiday cards aren't so much about communication as they are about ritual and sentiment. This is the one time of year when folks supposedly slow down and reflect on what's important (whether or not that's practical in the modern world -- particularly if you have a job that picks up over the holidays -- is another story entirely). Taking the time to send a physical card, to address the envelope, to purchase the stamp and get it mailed, these are all purposeful gestures that evoke a simpler, possibly more sincere time, especially when so few people bother anymore. And that's aside from the fact that holiday cards are starting to arrive here, and with them, the guilt because we are currently card-less.

So which is it? Does the ubiquity of social media render holiday cards a quaint little throwback to the days of rotary phones, something which only those with time on their hands (and possibly Emily Post's guide to life) will bother with anymore? Or does all of this casual "hey, I read that on your Wall" and "I think I saw you mention that on your blog" and "did I get that link from you on Twitter?" sort of online interaction mean that traditions such as holiday cards are now the only way to express true commitment to people and relationships?

I can't decide. But I do think it's too late for me to manage cards for this year, and if you tell me it doesn't necessarily mean I'm an awful friend/relative, that would be okay with me.

BlogHer Contributing Editor Mir Kamin still really likes you, even if she never does manage to send you a card. She blogs near-daily about issues parental and otherwise at Woulda Coulda Shoulda, and all day long about the joys of mindful retail therapy at Want Not.

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