Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas Cards

One of the many templates you can
download online. Its problem?
You have to write something on it.
I'm still getting them--now only about one a day or so, however, and there are some obvious reasons why I get so few these fading days:

  • I don't "prime the pump"--i.e., I rarely fire the first shot. There are a few people--almost all family--to whom I write cards each year, a change from my youthful days when I wrote lots of them. But now? I tend to write them only after I've received one. Tacky, I know, but efficient.
  • I'm old(er). I think lots of people are waiting to send my wife a sympathy card rather than wasting time on a Christmas card to me--who knows if the old guy's even sentient anymore? And, of course, because I'm older, some of my earlier friends and acquaintances are ... elsewhere ... and no longer using the USPS or Facebook or anything other than a harp (or fan).
  • The Internet. Because it's so easy to stay in touch these days, a lot of people just don't bother with specific holiday greetings anymore. We're sort of "in touch" with one another via Facebook, etc., so why waste your time (and $$) on cards and stamps and handwriting? I get it. And there are online services (I actually use one of them) that keep track of the birthdays and anniversaries in your circle and allow you to send a digital animated greeting that always arrives on time. (And you don't have to include a check or cash!)
I've noticed a trend in recent years (and I'm in no way suggesting that I'm the first to notice it): Quite a few of the cards I now receive have no personal greeting in them whatsoever. No human handwriting. Instead, they show family pictures--everyone smiling, looking sharp and successful--with a conventional (printed) greeting of some sort. Salutations from Our Family to Yours!

And, of course, the "Christmas letter" (so easy now with computers and color printers), which informs us about members of the family who have won Nobel Prizes, MacArthur Awards, Pulitzers, etc. I confess that I do read these, which sometimes have (or don't have) any personal writing on them at all.

When I was a boy, I hated writing Christmas cards--but I had to do it (Family Decree #247), just as I had to write thank-you notes after my birthday, after Christmas. One thing I did learn from those experiences: Brevity is the soul of wit (I was thrilled to read these words coming from the mouth of Polonius the first time I read Hamlet--though P. was far from one who practiced what he preached).

But--oddly--I remain somewhat old-fashioned. When I get a card from someone, I always answer it (well, not the commercial ones--the ones that say We here at Huge International Corporation wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season!). And I answer it using my penmanship, a skill that has declined, steadily, since I won an award in sixth grade (or was it fourth?) from the Zaner-Bloser Co.; for years I kept that certificate (one of the few academic awards I would win in public school). Who knows where it is now?

Who knows where my penmanship is now? Down some rabbit hole, stuck to the skirt of Alice?

My students in later years were very glad, I think, that I'd learned to use the "comment" feature on Word when I graded their papers electronically: That way they could actually read my comments before they ignored them.

Anyway, if you got a partly legible card from me this year, treasure it--not because it has intrinsic value (it really doesn't) but because it's rare. And endangered.

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