Here is how abundant I’m appetite some Christmas agenda love: Aback the third agenda accustomed aftermost week—that’s right, bringing our absolute to a beggarly three—I opened it alike admitting it was addressed to a Mr. and Mrs. D. Farrell. I apprehend that I shouldn’t be account added people’s mail, but it didn’t accept a acknowledgment address. And aback I’m in no position to be captious accustomed the year’s almanac low haul, I put the Farrells’ agenda on my fridge. It’s there to accumulate the added two, a Scottie dog with snowflakes from my husband’s eightysomething accessory Bernice and a photo of two accompany with their baby, from attractive pathetically lonely.
My alleviation is that I am not the abandoned one activity cardless. Here at Slate, we accept been comparing notes, and the accord is that abounding of us aren’t accepting the accepted numbers of anniversary cards, at atomic not the ancient cardboard kind. Our analysis began aftermost week, aback “Human Guinea Pig” and “Dear Prudence” columnist Emily Yoffe beatific about an e-mail allurement if others had noticed a decline. “If it turns out anybody is drowning in Christmas cards,” she added, “I will accept it’s not a trend, it’s aloof personal.”
If anyone’s fridge was covered, he or she was too adroit to say so. Instead, Emily’s agenda set off a annular of me-toos. “Last year we got at atomic a dozen,” technology columnist Farhad Manjoo wrote. “This year there’s been one.” “I accept been apprehensive if I affronted my accomplished account somehow, the declivity has been so severe,” managing editor Rachael Larimore said. “We’re bottomward to about four,” chief editor Dahlia Lithwick wrote, “mostly from Jewish people.” A Slate staffer who will abide nameless (for abhorrence of abashing his accepted girlfriend) said that he’d gotten one card, from his academy girlfriend’s grandmother. This prompted Emily to jump aback in: “They’re the abandoned bodies still sending.” Others accept accustomed cards from auto dealers, cardboard commitment guys, and English people. (It was an Englishman who in 1843 invented the Christmas card; today Britons are sometimes criticized for sending too many.) Margaret Talbot appear on the “Double X podcast” that of the two cards she’d received, one was from a bounded business and the added was from, “God absolve it, the Hoover Institution.”
Here, then, is my prediction: 2010 will go bottomward as the year the anniversary agenda lay dying. This is a nice, adventurous thesis. Of course, it ability additionally be wrong. Caveats:
There are four mail commitment canicule amid now and Christmas. Maybe afterwards this anniversary Slate contributors and staffers will be showered in greeting cards. Or maybe we’re seeing a boundless about-face against the New Year’s card, already the best of civil types and procrastinators. We should add that we accept no 2010 abstracts to aback up our Slate-wide poll. Like all kinds of cardboard mail, anniversary agenda deliveries accept been steadily crumbling for years, but the postal account hasn’t accomplished accumulation its numbers for aftermost December, let abandoned this one. And assorted greeting agenda industry assembly adumbrate abandoned a bashful bead in agenda sales this year.
I accommodated their optimism with skepticism—it seems arbitrary to apprehend the greeting agenda bodies to trumpet their own decline. So let’s leave a the binding disclaimers and accept that our adventures reflect a broader trend. The aing catechism is this: Who dead the Christmas card? And why now? Here, our prime suspects:
1) Frugality. Why decay money on a allotment of bankrupt cardboard that’s activity to be chucked in a brace of weeks? The holidays are expensive, the abridgement is still wheezing, e-cards are chargeless or about chargeless (more about them in a moment). The botheration with this account is that companies like Shutterfly accept fabricated cards—nice, alone ones with photos—ridiculously cheap. An abridgement archetypal Shutterfly card, with envelope and stamp, will run you 99 cents. If you’re an boilerplate 35- to 64-year-old, the column appointment says you beatific 16.2 anniversary cards in 2008. That agency that if you’d connected your melancholia greeting addiction this year, you’d be out abandoned $16.04—more than a backpack of Squinkies, granted, but not much.
2) The end of the abode book. As Slate contributor Noreen Malone wrote, “Honestly, no one absolutely keeps their friends’ addresses the way they acclimated to, because there are easier agency to acquaintance them.” Abounding of us don’t accept the faintest abstraction area anyone lives these days, so acclamation an envelope agency sending an e-mail to get the person’s address, at which point you accept already accomplished one of the capital purposes of the exercise (reaching out to addition you aren’t contrarily in blow with). This is absolutely why I haven’t managed to accelerate out cards aback 2005, admitting my best intentions. Anniversary year I eye the aforementioned about 2006 carton of anniversary cards with abhorrence and self-loathing, and anniversary year, my snail-mail contacts book gets added out of date.
3) The celebration of the e-card. We don’t absolutely buy this explanation. In theory, it makes sense: E-cards are free, or about free, and you don’t charge a person’s concrete coordinates to accelerate one. But whether or not you anticipate it’s a acceptable abstraction to accelerate your admired ones Jacquie Lawson-style animations of elves acceptable to Christmas carols, an e-card is so clashing an absolute agenda in both anatomy and action that few bodies assume to accede it a acting for the absolute thing. “Am I declared to book it out and band it to the mantelpiece?” asked Emily.
4) Mom liberation. This year, women fabricated up a majority of the assignment force for the aboriginal time. But according to the Greeting Agenda Association, we still buy an estimated 80 percent of all greeting cards. Maybe 2010 is the year we assuredly said, To hell with it, I’m not blockage up backward tonight to lick envelopes.
5) Facebook. Additionally accepted as the “I already apperceive what you did aftermost summer” theory. This is the one that best appeals to us. It checks the “Why now?” box. And aback you attending aback at the Christmas card’s evolution, it feels about inevitable.
Once, not so continued ago, bodies best out a agenda they liked, wrote article inside, beatific it off, and that was that. Again came the photo card. Alike admitting some bodies initially begin abacus claimed photos to cards a blowhard move, it anon became the absence for bodies with kids. Meanwhile, the home computer was enabling addition innovation: The anniversary anatomy letter, an apparent account of a family’s Very Busy, Very Exciting year. Somewhere forth the way, amid the photos and the anatomy letters, the anniversary agenda chock-full actuality a agenda from one actuality to addition and started actuality a accumulation broadcast.
But now, with Facebook so thoroughly adumbrated into our lives, we already apperceive area our accompany (and our “friends”) went on vacation, what they attending like appropriate now, and whether they’ve afresh switched jobs. As Rachael put it, “You are already in blow with bodies you commonly abandoned allocution to a few times a year, and they are already seeing pictures of your kids.” In 2010, bodies don’t charge to delay for December to brag. They’ve been accomplishing it all year.
What do you think—are we appropriate that the Christmas agenda is activity out of style? If so, what’s the reason? And is this trend to be acclaimed or mourned? Booty our clairvoyant poll beneath or counterbalance in with a comment. We will be watching our mailboxes, and your replies, anxiously. And if you acquaint us it’s not a trend afterwards all, that it absolutely is personal, we’ll try to booty it in stride.
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