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Christmas cards are one of the 21st century’s lost arts

It’s December. It’s time for tree decorating, Christmas shopping, holiday baking, visits from Santa and other traditions.

I plan to decorate and shop. I’m also thinking about a potential revival of one of my holiday pursuits.

I’m thinking about doing cards with a Christmas letter for 2023. There would be about 15 of them for relatives and several close friends.

I did cards and a letter for almost 20 years. It led to exchanges of about 50 cards. The process included relatives, friends, and former teachers.

One year about a decade ago I didn’t do one and then never went back to it. My number of cards received has dwindled to about seven or eight from close relatives.

I’m not totally sure why I stopped. Some of it had to do with my dad’s Parkinson’s Disease. I didn’t want to have a gloomy letter, but it couldn’t have been overly light and hopeful either.

Now might be a good time to try it again. I have my fair share of good news about travel, community activities, family and recreation.

Also it was fun to work on the letters. I would choose a font with a bold headline and light faced text. I’d cap it off by going to a print shop to select a background with a border. I wanted it to look like I invested some time.

The last steps were to sign the cards, write the envelopes, put stamps on them and take them to the post office. It was always satisfying to send them on their way.

I then liked checking my mailbox every day to see if I had cards. There were usually at least one or two. Some were just a family photo with a holiday wish, which was fine. It meant they thought of me during the holidays.

The ones with letters were special. I heard from some gifted letter writers. They described their years with lots of details and interesting comments.

When people write Christmas letters, they prove that they have fulfilling lives. They have thoughts that are meant to be shared.

My age range seems to be the cut off point for whether or not people still write for the holidays. Many older people still do it. The alternative is to post a short social media message, but that doesn’t seem to be catching on.

Social media users think they keep in touch with friends at least once a week and that it’s enough. They don’t see a need for a holiday message that summarizes many of the things they posted.

I would hit the Like button for holiday messages. They aren’t as personal as a card, but they’re better than nothing. It’s communication, something that needs to remain vital for the good of humanity.

When we take the time to send some type of thoughtful holiday greeting, we prove that we aren’t zombies who spend all of their free time with a screen.

Instead we get thoughts that truly count. They help to forge stronger family and social connections. They’re good for families and communities.

The more I talk about it, the more I think I really do need to invest several hours this month by doing a few cards. I have some nice cards that my mom received in the mail. They might as well be put to good use.

It’s possible that as people get older, they’ll see a need to return to traditions like cards. It might be enough to keep card writing from dying out altogether.

Hopefully that can happen. It’s nice when people reach out. It’s nice when they go out of their way to show you that you’re appreciated.

The holidays are a lonely time for some people, especially those who don’t live near very many family members. An unexpected card in the mail or even a social media message can make them a little less lonely. They might brighten the short days and long nights. I’s always good to spread Christmas cheer.

— Jim Muchlinski is a longtime reporter and contributor to the Marshall Independent

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