Beloved Tradition vs. Annoying Obligation
Oh, holiday cards.
I have such mixed feelings about them. I love getting them. I mean, who isn’t excited when you get ACTUAL mail from people you know and like? They’re fancy, festive or funny. As they arrive in their smooth, colorful envelopes, you feel anticipation – who is it from? What does it say? As they start to stack up, you feel popular. Loved.
But I’m not wild about sending them. I usually forget to buy them until the last minute and then have to dig around to get everyone’s current address, print out labels (my poor parents still hand-write hundreds of addresses), sign them all, poison myself on envelope adhesive, stick on stamps, etc. And that’s if I don’t include a little personal note in each, which I try to do. It’s exhausting.
Depending upon how many you send.
I made a rule a few years ago that if I didn’t get a card from someone, I would remove them from my list the following year. (Too harsh?) This requires a bit of record keeping, but this policy has radically cut down my list. I consider it like an email UNSUBSCRIBE, and I hold no grudges. On the contrary, I feel a little relieved when I can cross someone off.
Based on my dwindling list, though, I think the holiday card tradition might be in peril. It used to be a way to touch base with friends and family once a year. Anyone remember getting an annual family newsletter from someone? Oh my, Aunt Jeanne’s sciatica is acting up again!
But now, with social media, we all know what our friends and family are up to. Not just once a year but in some cases, ALL THE TIME.
I don’t need a card to see what my cousin’s kids look like. I can see a new picture of them almost hourly.
There’s no need to reconnect. If anything, people are looking to disconnect or unplug. How many people do you know that have taken a break from Facebook or Twitter in the past year?
But this is the card’s saving grace. It’s not part of the online noise. It is, unlike so much of what we deal with today, something tangible. Something you can touch, hold and display.
Even though I work at a digital marketing agency, we still see the value in that. That’s why we still do traditional marketing too. And yep, we even made holiday cards.
Happy Holidays, everyone!