Whatever happened to …

… Christmas Cards?

It was a big family tradition.  Every year, we would sit around the kitchen table with huge bags of Christmas cards and my mother would have “the mailing list”.  We would go through signing, addressing, and stamping the cards and they’d be taken to the post office for mailing – hopefully for delivery by Christmas.

Maintaining the mailing list was a big event.  It would start with family and then expand to include friends and acquaintances.  It was really important to make sure that we didn’t ignore anyone!  We had this big collection of stamps and I can only remember one card that went out of the country to family in Minnesota.

Then, we would be on the receiving end.  Daily, it seemed, there would be a number of incoming cards from folks.  In our living room, we had drapes that went all around the one wall and my mother would pin the cards to the drapes.  It was nothing to completely cover them.  And, as you can imagine, the horror was that we might received a card from someone new.  Time to add them to the mailing list for next year.

Even then, my parents made sure that we recognized that not everyone celebrated or celebrated in the same way that we did.  Cards were specially chosen to hopefully not offend.

When I left for university, it always was a treat to come home and work my way through the collection to see how many names that I remembered.

After I got married, we started our own tradition of mailing Christmas cards but it was nowhere near the volume of my parents.

Another tradition that I started at the workplace was to stick a card in each of my colleagues’ mailboxes.  I would stop at a variety store and buy a number of those scratch lottery tickets and included them as a gift.  I hoped that at least one person would win the big amount of $50,000 and split it with me!  I seem to remember a couple of people getting $10 winners and there were plenty of people who won a new ticket.  Well, I tried.

Time moves on and I was just reflecting on how few cards that we actually receive these days – and how many that we send out.  It’s not that the cards aren’t available but they’ve become fairly expensive and even the lesser priced ones that you’d find at a dollar store just look cheap.  Then, there’s the cost of mailing them.  It really is sort of sad to see this tradition fading in front of us.

But it’s not gone yet.  Our prized card this year comes from Zug, Switzerland and the Loras Network.


These days, it’s far easier (and cheaper) to send greetings via email or any of the online card generator sites.  Of course, the cost is in giving up email addresses to someone else.

How about you?

  • Are Christmas cards or holiday cards part of a family tradition for you?
  • If so, do you exchange them at the same volume these days?
  • Do you treasure receiving cards from others?
  • Do you see a time when this tradition will disappear completely in favour of something else?
  • Did the price of postage affect your card mailing habits?
  • Have you gone electronic with yours?
  • Or, if you have a blog, do you reach all readers that way?

As always on a Sunday, I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

Please share them via comment below.

Do you have an idea or thought that would be appropriate for my “Whatever happened to … ” series of blog posts.  They can all, by the way, be revisited here.

Please visit this Padlet and add your idea.  I’d love for it to be an inspiration for a post!

Author: dougpete

The content of this blog is generated by whatever strikes my fancy at any given point. It might be computers, weather, political, or something else in nature. I experiment and comment a lot on things so don't take anything here too seriously; I might change my mind a day later but what you read is my thought and opinion at the time I wrote it! My personal website is at: http://www.dougpeterson.ca Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dougpete I'm bookmarking things at: http://www.diigo.com/user/dougpete

5 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …”

  1. Hi Doug mou!

    First of all, we are very happy that the card reached you already! (Switzerland is great, but the postal service can be a bit…slow ; ) Thank you so much for your kind words and mentioning us! We really appreciate your friendship.

    What a great story! I love how you and your family not only took the time and consideration to send all those people cards, but also gave careful thought to how each person celebrated Christmas.

    Doug, we wish you, Laurel and your beautiful family happy holidays, all the best and I will keep saying it – I hope we get to meet in person some day!

    Big hugs to you all,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think that a lack of a pen influenced my lack of Christmas card writing. 🙂 I do send out many Christmas emails. A few family members and friends still send out holiday cards, and I’m always amazed at the time they put into them. There’s something special about receiving these cards … I wish I was better at writing them. Curious to hear what others do.

    On a different note, many K classrooms set up mailboxes and card writing opportunities at this time of the year. Your post makes me wonder if this experience mimics reality anymore and if different writing forms should be explored (a holiday text perhaps 🙂 ). Thanks for getting me thinking!


    Liked by 1 person

  3. A timely “whatever happened to” post, as I just spent several hours yesterday writing all my Christmas cards!

    1) Are Christmas cards or holiday cards part of a family tradition for you?
    They are. I’m the one in charge of maintaining “the list” – usually, if I don’t receive a card back after a couple of years, you get removed from the list. Exceptions are my staff, who get regardless if they give back. Part of it also involves selecting a photo of the family to send inside each card. Sometimes we use a group photo we took on vacation. Other times we pose for a self-made holiday shot. I think my family’s favourite was when everyone made clay versions of themselves so they didn’t have to sit through 20 attempts to get everyone looking at the right spot for when the camera’s automatic timer activated. For certain groups, their cards are how they learn what charity I’ve given to on their behalf in lieu of group/staff gifts. Canada Helps is a great website for this – so it’s a combo of old tech and new.

    2) If so, do you exchange them at the same volume these days?
    Great data examination! I’m not sure. I keep all the cards I get each year, put them in a baggie, and store them. (Why? Not sure!) I should count how many I received

    3) Do you treasure receiving cards from others?
    I like receiving cards. (So much so that I don’t throw them away afterwards!) My favourites are the ones with photos of the people. I like seeing how children grow and families change.

    4) Do you see a time when this tradition will disappear completely in favour of something else?
    Sadly, I suspect that’s true. Aviva’s practice of holiday emails, or those ecards where you can have your face on dancing elves, are becoming more common. It does take a lot of work, and it’s discouraging to get a card sent back because the address is wrong.

    5) Did the price of postage affect your card mailing habits?
    I try not to let it. Hand-delivering the staff cards to their school mailbox saves quite a few stamps.

    6) Have you gone electronic with yours?
    No, although it was hard this year to find boxes with large numbers of cards in them. This year, I spent a lot more on the actual cards because I have about 80+ on my list and most card sets I found only had 18 per box!

    7) Or, if you have a blog, do you reach all readers that way?
    My blog is a mix of professional and personal, so I don’t necessarily use my blog to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, but if it relates to my professional reflection, I might.

    Thanks Doug for the post! I’m still covered in glitter and ink stains from my work last night!



  4. I have similar memories of Christmas cards past! The hanging and displaying of the cards must have been a popular thing. I remember my aunt hanging theirs on strings across the livingroom and dining room. It became quite the web. My mom placed ours in a big wide basket made out of….yup, laminated old Christmas card covers stitched together – a bit tacky, but it had its charm. The time spent on all those cards and letters! My “volume” has never been what I saw going in and out of the house when I was little. My list for the mailing kind is around 10 now.

    I think I discussed some of your questions in an older post I wrote about Christmas cards, so I will be lazy and just post it here 🙂 I shared some trivia and speculation about the cards in it as well:


    Merry Christmas, Doug!


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