Lamenting the lack of holiday cards

Ellen Futterman


Maybe like me, you, too, are getting fewer holiday cards in the mail this season. It stands to reason, of course, with social media and all that it’s much easier to post the ubiquitous “happy holidays” message on Facebook than it is to send a card. Not only are there environmental concerns about cutting down trees to say “Happy Hanukkah,” but have you gotten a load at what cards cost lately? And that doesn’t even include the price of postage.

Still, I miss getting lots of cards in the mail, especially at this time of year. They tend to conjure up happy memories: the curlicue writing on Aunt Lil’s envelopes, with a little gelt tucked inside; the homemade cards from mom’s friend Edie, who created them from old snapshots.

Growing up, it was a tradition in the Futterman household to display greeting cards on top of the upright Steinway in our living room. Mind you, access to said living room was limited in those days, largely because the furniture was covered in clear plastic so that no one would actually be tempted to sit on it. 

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But if it were a birthday, or Hanukkah, or the Jewish New Year, or any other occasion that warranted a card, I was in charge of displaying them on top of the piano. I’d spend ridiculous amounts of time and energy carefully arranging these cards. The wonky ones that open from the bottom posed a particular challenge because they were hard to stand up. If heat blew too hard from a vent, or someone in the vicinity of the piano sneezed, the cards would topple over like, well, a house of cards.

For a while, holiday brag letters were in vogue, with friends and relatives detailing the amazing accomplishments of family members. Now we have Facebook to do just that, along with chronicling our vacations and what we ate for dinner, not to mention voicing our political proclivities. Am I the only one who seems to know my high school classmates better now than I did in high school?

I know times have changed. We live in a fast-paced digital age where few of us have spare hours to choose cards, write them out, address envelopes, attach stamps and mail the lot. I get it. But still, I can’t help but feel a little wistful about it all.

Because let’s face it: A computer atop the piano scrolling holiday wishes just isn’t the same thing.

Happy Hanukkah to all.