We hung them from a string as festoons and placed them on mantles and side tables, and around the Christmas tree skirt. The illustrations brightened our Christmas decorations with luster, colors, wishes, and personal notes. They retired into the boxes with Christmas ornaments to be treasured forever. They were Christmas cards, the ones that lost to the competition and convenience of eCards and then WhatsApp messages.
Purchasing Christmas cards, writing thoughtful notes, neatly packing them into envelopes, adding the address from a Contacts directory, gluing the stamps, and posting them was an integral part of our Christmas family traditions. It all started with my parents creating a list of friends and relatives who would receive the cards, mostly based on who sent us similar physical greetings in the past year and how relationships had developed throughout the year. New friends made, some lost; fresh acquaintances or relationships no longer meaningful. The end of the year was about taking stock of all the people who still mattered and to whom we mattered.
There was an entire selection process for these cards. The big, intricate one was for dear ones and cherished relations. I recall pop-up cards with beautiful cut-out nativity scenes or tender colors, sparkly pictures, and little poems, sometimes with exquisite penmanship, that filled us with warm cheer. When my parents selected the cards, they carefully read the message inside. Often, the choice was tough – the card was pretty but the words not so much.
Cards to be sent long distance or formal acquaintances, like colleagues, were typically smaller and less elaborate. Handwritten messages inside these were also formal in their intent. Sometimes, recent photographs or personal letters were included in the card, as a special Christmas sentiment for family or close friends.
The tradition of exchanging physical Christmas cards has become passe. We now have Christmas e-newsletters in close family circles. A modern phenomenon of family photographs captured in professional photoshoots and printed with relevant messages is more ubiquitous than handwritten, artistic Christmas cards with Yule logs, baubles, angels, and little robins.
Christmas cards were a way of saying, we are thinking about you, and we want to remain in touch. This sentiment is now expressed anywhere, anytime, through the proliferation of technology and social media. A WhatsApp message or email is as free as stock images. We can customize images and messages within seconds, or send a single message in bulk within seconds. No hassles of the entire process from buying to posting a physical card.
However, the electronic way of things misses out on the personal touch. Imagine receiving something by post or even courier, other than a magazine subscription or a utility bill. Imagine opening a colorful envelope, with a handwritten note, slipping on the floor, and glitter sprinkling magic on your fingers, and a Christmas message adorning that space above your fireplace or on your fridge. Last year a friend’s daughter made hand-painted cards with a loving note that I still keep in my drawer.
Tangible Christmas cards are a part of nostalgia, a part of personalization that we are seeking and missing every day in our lives. I understand the cost, effort, and environment-related concerns. Recyclable paper is one way to reduce the environmental impact. Maybe, we can send cards and share season’s greetings where we feel an emotional connection. Christmas cards are today a vintage memory. Is it possible to revive this tradition and build genuine connections and send real sparkles instead of digital ones?
Disclaimer: Any opinion expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not reflect the views of WriteFluence.in. Any omissions or errors are the author’s and WriteFluence does not assume any liability or responsibility for them.
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