Christmas Card Letters: Where Have They Gone And, More Importantly, Do We Miss Them?

Where have all the letters gone?

Christmas Card Letter

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Have you felt it? There’s been a shift in the tectonic plates of Christmas card etiquette. We’ve noticed that Christmas card letters have all but disappeared from our holiday mailboxes. Where there once was prose, there is now photography. Where we once shared stories, we now share images. Where there once were letters, there now are not. 

Where have all the letters gone? It’s not hard to guess, as we find ourselves firmly in the era of the photo card. You know the one: a single, glossy page with a cluster of photos set in a colorful template design. Plus a sign-off like “Happy Holidays, from The Millers” or “Merry Christmas, with love from The Jackson Family.” They're eye-catching, and they sure do look nice lined up on the mantle. The rise of the photo card and its brief salutation has unsurprisingly coincided with the fall of the Christmas card letter, the long paragraph (or even longer essay) written to provide loved ones from near and far updates on the sender, their family, and highlights from their year. 

Who has time for letters anymore? Our busy lives, coupled with the ease of ordering photo cards, has spelled the demise of those long-winded updates–don’t we give those over the phone now, anyway? Don’t we see each other on social media all the time? The reasoning is clear, but the effect, we fear, is a bigger loss than we can yet know. The letters we once received in Christmas cards were treasured dispatches from afar, opportunities to read handwritten stories and connect with loved ones across great distances. They were something to hold and keep and look back on and return to with pleasure in Christmases to come. 

So we’d like to make a case for the handwritten Christmas card letter. Will it take time to write? Sure. Will it be an opportunity for connection, something lovely to enjoy this season and also years from now? Of course. When it comes to artifacts, few things are as personal as handwritten missives from faraway loved ones. It's a personal touch, and that's always appreciated.

Start now. Reflect on your year, write a draft or two, and break out the holiday stationery. But don’t forget to slip a photo in that envelope too. We still want to see your smiling faces.

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