Mail’s decline keenly felt at Christmastime

I come from a large family with my siblings living across Ontario and Alberta. Each year, my “out-west” sister-in-law faithfully sends a Christmas card to my wife and I, accompanied with a photo and a one-page, one-sided letter featuring that year’s “family highlights.”

Not this year, however.

Instead, I received by email a really cool Christmas card video. The video starts in a nice, rustic living room decked out in Christmas decorations with a jolly, live Santa Claus poking the fire, before he takes a seat in his comfy chair and reaches for a newspaper, called the Walsh Family Herald.

The video zooms in as Santa flips each page, featuring large photographs and bold headlines announcing family events including the birth of a grandniece (my nephew’s first child), the announcement of my niece’s engagement, my other nephew marking his 30th birthday and wraps up with pictures of my brother and sister-in-law’s recent vacation in Mexico.

It’s a cool video. No doubt, it took my sister-in-law time to download the images and write the headlines, but I’m sure it took considerably less time than writing the traditional letter, signing each Christmas card, addressing each envelope and, of course, applying postage.

The amount she saved on postage likely went toward a gift for her first granddaughter! I don’t blame her. That said, I cannot help lamenting the loss of a tradition that’s rapidly disappearing. My wife and I look forward to receiving Christmas cards in the mail. In 2015, however, we really saw a significant drop in the amount of cards we received. We understand. With postage running at 85 cents a letter, the price of Christmas cards continually escalating combined with how busy everyone can be this time of the year, it makes sense to take advantage of the free Christmas greeting cards and videos available online.

However, as stamp collectors, we cannot help feel the loss of a great tradition that has had a warming impact on our families for generations. Recently, Britain’s Royal Mail commissioned independent research from One Poll, which found an overwhelming 75 per cent of respondents expressing a preference for receiving traditional cards by mail compared with nine per cent preferring an electronic festive greeting or social media message.

The poll also “revealed that when receiving a hand-written card, over half of those asked (59 per cent) felt appreciative of the effort the sender went to. In addition, 50 per cent felt that someone really cared and over a third (37 per cent) feeling like it was finally Christmas.”

Perhaps we can reignite interest in this tradition as we look ahead to Christmas 2016 and Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations in 2017. This would serve as a great opportunity to take part in the decades-old tradition of creating and mailing Christmas cards while using them to reflect and commemorate our country’s history at the same time.

I believe there’s a great opportunity for the philatelic community to play a leading role in this. I’m going to give it more thought and if you have any suggestions or want to participate, give me a call, send me an email or, better yet, mail me a letter!

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