New Castle News

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December 21, 2013

Josh Drespling: You won’t get my stamp of approval for Christmas cards

NEW CASTLE — I suppose there are some folks who cherish sending and receiving Christmas cards.

They enthusiastically anticipate pulling out the ol’ fountain pen and tattered address book. They cozy up to the fireplace with a glass of wine or hot chocolate while striking pen to page. They unload the details of the closing year's events and current affairs for all their far-flung friends, relatives, and associates to read. They pack the card full of thoughts of love and good wishes for those people they care about.

They have carefully chosen the cards they are sending. Some have gone as far as having their cards custom made to make then even more extraordinary. The images, paper, and fonts match their personality and feelings about Christmas.

Despite this grandiose description and the warm holiday spirit that it evokes, the art and desire to send Christmas cards has all but died for me and my generation. More and more we receive what appears to be Dollar Store and bargain bin cards with nothing more than a name scribbled under the generic poem. The front is emblazoned with some second rate, rehashed Christmas imagery. They are lacking feeling, sincerity, and passion.

It feels like a chore, an old-fashioned social prescript. In the age of digital communication and expression, it is much more convenient, effective, and fiscally responsible to use technology to our benefit. Just think of how many pieces of your child’s surreal finger paintings or pictures of your cat you could send your unsuspecting relatives. There are so many platforms to connect with your friends and relatives that to only reach out to them at this time of year is more of a slap in the face than an uplifting gesture.

Once I receive your dime store correspondences, what am I supposed to do with them? These pieces of insignificant paper that you felt obligated to send me are cluttering my mailbox and home. What is the etiquette here? Am I obligated to save this trivial item or can I simply purge and toss it in the trash, ending the dilemma completely?

If you are relatively young (as I like to perceive myself), and have a moderately busy social life, you are in contact with the ones you care about on a regular basis. Perhaps this is why the art of Christmas card sending is a dying practice. We contact our friends in various ways. From random text messages at 3 a.m. to Skype sessions or long-winded emails. There is no limit to the amount of interaction that is possible once you harness the power of today’s technology.

I've felt much more in touch with my friends as a result of conversations that developed from my posting of a picture or video than I ever have as a result of scrawling a note in a card and shoving it in the mailbox.

Maybe it is a sign of the times that people have shunned this traditional way of conveying that someone is thinking about you. Maybe it’s a tradition lost with aged relatives and maybe it’s because stamps just cost too much.


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