I hereby declare, single-handedly and unilaterally, that the age of the Christmas card, having commenced sometime in the 1840’s, is officially over. Sure, we will continue to have a few die-hard stragglers who dutifully keep up this archaic Victorian custom, but their numbers are ever-waning, quaint oddities in a digital age.
This year, for the first time ever, the Amsterdam Adans have received more email Christmas greetings than the card variety.
Twenty-six years ago the Newlywed Adans, residing in Seattle, strung up a line of festive ribbon around the top of the living room walls. (Easy enough in a land of wood; brick & mortar Europe is more problematic…) As Christmas approached each card delivered to our postbox was attached to the ribbon, creating a cordon of colorful greetings ranging from the banal to the sublime, from Santa’s reindeer to the Magi.
We too, tutored by our heritage and living in fear of not living up to elders’ expectations, spent unreasonable amounts of time and money purchasing and sending cards which, at the other end of the cycle, garnered no more than a fleeting appreciative glance before being added to a horde of unanswered mail. The greetings were sincere enough, but lost in a sea of holiday sincerity.
Today, anno 2009 and four days before Christmas, I survey the lonely ribbon upon the wall and deduce that, in fact, I have more digits than cards, more children than creche scenes, more pets at my feet than Magi on the wall. Let’s face it: the life has gone out of this particular party. The bubbly’s gone flat, the cracker is hopelessly soggy. Time for a fresh approach.
The year-end Christmas letter, sent by email and adorned with strange family photos and seasonal clip-art, appears to be the new standard. Is this an improvement? I’m not sure. In any case, I have so far not been inclined to print out these oddball missals and string them up. On the other hand, they do tell me much more about my friend or loved one than a simple card with standard Christmas text and cursory greeting.
Who knows what the future will bring. In any case, in spite of the fact I have not sent you a card, I wish you, blessed reader, a truly merry Christmas.
24 December: Okay, after having written the above two things happened: 1) We received a flood of cards, now surpassing the emailed messages. Seems my writing was premature. 2) I also received some angry emails. So I take this opportunity to remind you to read the “N.B.” disclaimer on my “About” page…
Finally, if you are wondering where the link went to my Youtube greeting: my sensitive spirit convinced me it might be somewhat offensive to some of my British readers, so I took it off. OTT = Out, just to be sure.
What a lot of work from some casual writing!