Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Christmas Cards

Do you send out stacks of Christmas cards? If you do, you're definitely in the mainstream of American life. I was going to put up a post about a dying tradition, but my premise was torpedoed after about five minutes of googling. Consider:

In 1987, the average American household received 29 pieces of Christmas mail, said U.S. Postal Service spokesman Gerry McKiernan. By 1994, the number dropped to 23. In 2002 it bounced back to 27, but a year later fell to fewer than 20 cards per household. In 2004 it rose to 21.6 cards. And this year? It is expected to remain stable at about 21.5 cards, he said. (WaPo)
My parents had a huge Christmas card list, and they received like numbers in return. Our house was literally festooned with cards...on the mantle (if the current house had one) and on every table or any other reasonably clear flat surface. Mom dreaded writing the things because it literally took her hours, nay, days, to work through the list. But she did it faithfully...year in, year out... including a mimeographed "family year-end summary" for those folks she only communicated with at Christmas. I used to think the only reason one sent cards at Christmas was to catch up with those folks you never talked to but were still on "the list." That may be true for a lot of people.

Some folks have interesting card traditions, like my buddy Greg who personally designs a new card every year and has them professionally printed. He used a photo of my infant son, reworked as a depiction of the Christ-child, as the basis for his card in 1997. The second Mrs. Pennington and I felt immensely honored!

I haven't sent a card in years. I quit doing that sometime back in the '90s, probably around the time of my divorce. Nor do I receive cards, with the exception of the one from my broker, who is faithful to the tradition. I sorta miss them. Like my parents, I arranged the cards on the mantle and around the Christmas tree. Definitely made the home very Christmasy.

Hallmark has an interesting history of Christmas cards on their web site. Good period illustrations, by decade, going back to the 20s.

And then there's this. Thanks, Microsoft. We really need more instruction in political correctness. God save us, one and all.

You're not going to get a card from me, but I can still say...


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