The scanty number of cards filling our mailbox this holiday season caused me to question our family's popularity.
"No one likes us anymore," I said half joking to my husband.
Sorting through the stack of envelopes in my hand, I opened the one holiday card we received that day.
Could it be that our once-a-year friends from our past jobs and past lives stopped sending cards for reasons that have nothing to do with their attachment to us?
After all, we didn't send them cards this year either. Are we part of a trend?
The Opinion Research Corporation polled more than 1,000 U.S. consumers and found that although 83 percent liked the idea of sending holiday cards, one in four did not plan to send them in 2011.
Why? People cited lack of time, the expense, and the inability to locate or an unwillingness to look up addresses.
I can understand the time crunch, and tightening the belt on the family funds, but coming up short on addresses puzzles me. Using the Internet, you don't need the investigative skills of a CSI unit to find the addresses of anyone from a third grade teacher in Hootsville,Texas to an ex-boss who moved from Boston to Baltimore and back again.
Instead of using the web to look up addresses at holiday time, I think more folks are using the web to reach out with e-greetings.
The Internet can carry a video clip, a photo, or a sentimental holiday message to everyone on your Facebook Friends list in the time it takes to write out one envelope, lick it shut, and affix a 44- cent stamp. Why send a paper card when you can send a creative and funny video?
By far the most entertaining holiday card we received this year was a JibJab music video set to "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree." Photos of family members were inserted onto the heads of singing and dancing elves. They prepared a log cabin for the holiday by carrying in the tree, vacuuming, and clinking cups of hot chocolate. In the hilarious finale, they play musical instruments in a family band. That card was impossible to watch without smiling.
Boxes of unsent cards and CVS copies of a photo of our daughter still cover our dining room table that resembles a landfill of scenes of snowflakes, holly branches, dreidels and latkes. Hanukkah and Christmas have passed. We barely ruffled the piles. Very few cards traveled from our dining room to the post office to the houses of friends or family. The cards I exchanged were taped to the gifts I hand delivered.
Ambivalent about sending out cards this year, I did what I always do when I can't decide: nothing. As if to highlight my situation, on Christmas Day I turned to the front page of The Globe's Ideas section. Cheery and nostalgic cards appear with Mark Feeney's article about the history of Christmas cards titled, "The Art of Christmas Past." Ten years from now, will he write a follow-up article called, "The Ghost of Christmas Cards Past" documenting the quaint, defunct custom of snail mail cards replaced by holograms and 3-D e-greetings?
I can't explain why I didn't send out cards this year; I had the stamps, the cards, and the addresses. None of my friends know why they let the tradition fall by the wayside and let their Facebook page take over. Inadvertently, we joined the group of people for whom the idea of sending old-fashioned holiday cards is more attractive than the act of doing it.