As Christmas gets closer and closer, and my list of things to do gets shorter and shorter, I thought a little bit today about one of the things I've always loved about this wonderful time of year. From the time I was a little kid until just a few years ago, that thing that I loved was the card tree.
When I was little, my mom had a tradition that I copied when I grew up and moved out on my own. Early in December she would start receiving Christmas cards from friends and family far away. Sometimes the cards had nice letters inside updating us all on how the folks were doing, and sometimes they had pictures too. Other cards were just signed by the senders, wishing us a very Merry Christmas. Mom would take each card and tape it to the inside of the kitchen porch door, to begin the shape of a Christmas tree - from the top of the door all the way down to the floor. I'm not sure how she picked which card would end up being the "star" but I always knew when I got it in the mail, which one I set aside to be the star. When I grew up and took my mom's tradition as my own, there were some years I had to many Christmas cards that not only could I make the shape of the tree to cover an entire door, I could fill in the tree with all the extra cards, then top it off with the perfect "star" card. One of the things I loved about that the most, was opening each card from time to time and re-reading them. I'm not sure why but it seemed so special to have all those "Merry Christmas" wishes from loved ones, taped right there to the door for the whole family to see.
Sadly, things began to change about 10 years ago, and the mailman stopped bringing the same amount of cards. I'm pretty sure in my case a lot of that had to do with my move to Canada and postal costs being much higher, but the other part had to do with a general decline in Christmas card sales overall. With the increasing popularity of e-greetings and explosion of what they now call hyper-connectivity, you're never at a loss for staying in touch with everyone you've ever known, 24 hours a day (if you want it that often). I guess folks just don't find that special Christmas greeting as special as it used to be, since they just left you a message on facebook last week and commented on your myspace pic 3 days ago.
Over the years after my move to Canada, the amount of cards that came were less each year, and last year was one of the saddest of all. Only five or six cards came last year, compared to the 20-30 that were the standard, once upon a time. It struck me last year, that this is a tradition that will probably fade away very soon, and will just be a fond memory. I'm pretty sure my hunch was correct, since we're now 10 days into the month of December and we have not received a single Christmas Card in the postal mail.
I know times change and traditions change, but it's just sort of sad to see this one go. I'm thinking I might modify it a little bit somehow, and try to revive it. I'm not really sure how yet, but I do have a couple of ideas. In any event, I'm curious about your greeting card habits at Christmas time, so I've added a new poll in the right hand sidebar. Please do take a second to take the poll?