I’m always surprised by the first one: an oddly shaped envelop I find in my mailbox sometime after the first of December. A week later there’s one more. Then two or three trickle in. Pretty soon, a steady stream of extra postage and “Do not Bend” scrawls pours into my house.
I open them one by one to be greeted by plastered smiles and photographed cheer. Some are faces I see every day. Some, I haven’t seen since last year’s avalanche of Christmas cards. But I welcome each and give them a place on the front of my fridge.
However, I wonder… Exactly when did we go from normal store-bought, personal-note-written, stand-on-their-own Christmas cards to these bulk-printed photo squares?
Time was, the Christmas card ordeal began early in October, when you would scour Hallmark for the perfect box set of Holiday Greeting cards that had just the right poem to space ratio for whatever sentiment you wished to sign at the bottom. You would gather your address list of essential friends and family. Then you would painstakingly sign and address each one. A roll of stamps and a trip to the post office later, and your holiday duty for that year would go out to grace mantelpieces across the land.
Now for a small fee, online photo sites will address, stamp, and mail your smiling mug to everyone in your contacts folder. With a few clicks and credit card info, you will have condensed a time-honored ordeal into a something you take care of on your lunch break.
I ponder what’s next. Will Christmas cards in the future be fully digital? Next year will it be a text message? A Facebook blast? “Merry Christmas from our family to yours. Please click on this link to enjoy some pictures of our year.”
Where will it end? Hologram Christmas trees? Virtual family gatherings? Just how digital can we become before we lose reality?
(Ok, this totally was not what this post was supposed to be. But my ramblings took longer than I thought. Coming tomorrow: “What Christmas Photos Say to Me.” In the meantime, what Christmas traditions do you see moving off the scene…or which traditions do you wish would find their happy end?)