It’s December. Do you know where your holiday cards are? Maybe they’re under the luggage in the upstairs closet. (They’re squashed. That deal you got at the Dollar Tree in June now amounts to a wasted $4.99 – and another bagful of recycling.) Maybe they’re stashed in a desk drawer, all helter skelter. (Forget them. Unless you’re unemployed – oops, maybe it’s not the time to go there – well, too late – your time is likely too valuable to attempt matching them to their envelopes.) It looks as though you’ll have to buy some new cards. It’s time to contact all those folks you haven’t seen or heard from in years, as well as the dangling branches of the family tree. (Uncle Dicky, How’s it goin’? Still drinkin’ too much?)
No, no, no. In tough economic times, there is only one piece of advice to heed in regard to buying those year-ending holiday cards:
It doesn’t matter whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve or Day, Kwanzaa, or Festivus. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to spend money on holiday cards.
“What!?!” you say. “Why, my family has sent cards every year for the last century. It warms the cockles of everyone’s heart. You take all the cards you get back and stick them on the wall with Scotch Tape, um, so that the adhesive left there after you pull them down can accumulate dust in February and March, necessitating repainting the living room. Again.”
Yes, that’s exactly right. Even if you can avoid repainting with Mr. Clean, it’s time to get over yourself and your squishy, last century ideas. And here’s why: You have a computer. (Indeed, if you didn’t have a computer, you wouldn’t be reading this.)
You need to send e-holiday cards.
“What!?!” you squeak again. “How impersonal!!!”
Not so, oh sentimental one. In fact, personally written e-holiday cards, whether attachments to e-mail or in an e-mail itself, allow for more personal, indeed creative, holiday expression. For the past three years, I have sent out holiday letters to relatives and friends, including those somewhat lapsed. This has allowed me a) to save between $15 and $25 dollars on postage, as well as the entire cost of whatever impersonal cards I would have purchased from the poets at Hallmark Cards, Inc., of Kansas City, MO; b) to update folks briefly on family developments, and c) to parody lightly those hideously overwritten year-ending letters that some people insist on sending out. (“Marcia, get this – little Danny got braces in July!”)
There are other advantages as well. You can pique your friends’ interest via fiction. In 2006 my holiday letter included the following: “Of course, there was that incident in July, but from the ‘distance’ of December, we can say it was all just part of the comic education of the Pennsylvania State Police.” That produced more return mail than anything that might have come out of a box sold at CVS. You can also stay completely current in your holiday greetings with e-holiday cards. For example, this year’s letter will close with “We do hope to see you all at the first National Stone an iBanker Day. I’ll bring the big rocks.” This year’s letter will also include a beautiful, internet-supplied image of an upside down Christmas tree somebody managed to make stand up straight. (It was an upside down year, right? Enough to make you believe that, one day, the Philadelphia Phillies will win the World Series, or something equally absurd.)
Save your cash. Be creative. Go with e-holiday cards.