Before I dared call myself a plain old writer, I was the world’s most prolific letter writer—single-handedly keeping the Post Office in the black for years before it started to tank. Beginning at age 16 until well into my 30’s, I wrote copious, and sad to say, long-winded missives to all my distant (i.e. anyone who lived more than a half-hour from me) friends. I stalked the mail box hoping for return posts, but to tell the truth, no one could (or had the energy to) keep up. Then email came on the scene and as with the rest of civilization, my letter writing habit dwindled. I still communicated, just via a different medium.
In spite of this evolution, there remained one area in which I refused to give up on pen and ink until a few years ago. Starting the day after Thanksgiving, I’d generate a Christmas card list, sit at the dining room table and write each recipient a detailed note, going at it each evening after work until my elbow ached. It seemed important to reach out to those I care for but rarely see—perhaps these personal letters would remind the receivers of how much they mean to me, in spite of the years and lifestyles distancing us.
Then, somewhere in the mid-2000’s, time took a 100-yard dash away from me. That year, I agonized for a while, but finally wrote a first ever “blanket letter” that I sent with apologies to everyone on my Christmas card list. The kicker is, no one seemed to mind. By then, those who remained in the card-sending-world (and I acknowledge my dinosaur status in this regard) had embraced the one-letter-fits-all short-cut; the few folks who even commented on my defection to the dark side cheered me on.
Nevertheless, it still doesn’t feel right, and after purchasing Christmas cards today (note, a full two weeks after Thanksgiving), I gazed into the dining room. For a moment, I thought about replicating the diligence of those earlier decades, but naaa. The inventory for LCSPrints resides on the table in there, leaving no room to write 50 (!) something cards. Off I went to the computer to craft a year-end update.
Before getting started though, a quick check of email revealed a first-of-the-season online Christmas card.
That figures. Here I am worried about sending a generic letter, when as usual; I’m miles behind the times. Electronic everything it seems. Yes, I know, send it online, save a tree, but since when can you hold an E-card your hand?
Besides, there’s the guilt. After all, it was likely the reduction in volume resulting from my switch to email in the 90’s that dragged the Post Office down in the first place and I won’t kick a guy once he’s face-planted on the dirt. Therefore, I refuse to contemplate how much a Christmas E-communication would save me on the cost of stamps.