What ever happened to …. ?


… old-fashioned holiday cards, printed on nice stock paper, with breathtaking scenes embedded with glitter?
And inside those old-fashioned cards were heartfelt messages — get this — hand-written in pen. Can you believe it? No. It’s true.
Things like:
“I hope everyone in your household is doing well. Bill had a good year at the firm and the girls are busy, active teenagers. See you at the Fourth of July barbecue.”
Oh! And sometimes folks would have a sense of humor and send one of those Shoebox Greetings cards with a Far Side holiday scene on the front and a witty note inside. But always there was the signature in ink. 

The thing about these now rare gems — we received three in total this year — is that is showed that someone took the time to sit down with a stack of cards on one side and an address book on the other and thought for a few moments about the addressee.
Then came the dreaded Holiday Newsletter. Can you tell I’m not a fan? OK. I’ll clarify: Not a fan of most newsletters. Some are written just right. As our English teachers used to advise us on essays and skirts: Both need to be long enough to cover the subject and short enough to be interesting.
But when newsletters tread into this territory, I’m heading for the shredder at a fast clip:
“I suppose it goes without saying that our little Jimmy earned an all-A report card again this year.”
“No one was surprised when our super-talented Jennifer was selected to represent her school on the European tour this past summer.”

I wonder: Is there a connection between perfect families and holiday newsletters? Do the dysfunctional just keep quiet?
Then, even more insulting than the photocopied newsletters sent out en masse, are the mass-produced family picture cards with the pre-printed messages and the computer printout envelope labels.
This, to me, has reduced holiday card sending to the level of junk mail.
I so look forward to receiving news and information about family and friends far away. I suppose the Internet is to blame for a lot of this. What with Facebook and other social networking systems, people can find out how Little Jimmy has grown every time a friend posts an updated picture. We don’t have to wait until Christmas.
But when every last shred of personalization is removed from a holiday greeting, it’s hard to feel, well, important or special. Do some people just have a computer do the whole thing for them? Is this a task conducted just after Halloween?
I’m out of the loop on this as you can guess. I still hand write my cards and spit-seal the envelopes.
I’m just old-fashioned that way.