Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Rate of Return

[I wrote this on December 23, 2008. I’m sharing it today – December 15, 2009 – the day I print, cut, fold, stuff, stick, and mail about 80 cards and 50 newsletters.  Last year, I had them all out by the first week of December.  To date, we’ve gotten 4 cards. But I’m not bitter.  Because of electronic media I can know more than I ever wanted to know about my friends’ lives; but I just can’t touch electronic images, my daughters can’t fight over who gets to open the next email, we can’t put .jpg files on the tree for family to peruse. I'm sad to notice the decline in this lovely tradition of sending Christmas Cards.]

This is a topic about which I had previously given little thought: the number of Christmas cards sent out vs. the number of Christmas cards received. This year, we ran a scant 33% return!  In retrospect, I think we usually run a good 75% return on these lovely little year-end missives, so I was a little shocked not only by the low numbers, but the who who didn’t return them.  New friends to stalwart Christmas card friends from years and years gone by – we’re talking twenty plus years, here – nothing. 

My parents and their friends never return cards and I’m okay with that.  I send them my card (and lengthy newsletter) mostly to counteract my mother’s feigned ignorance about my life (and my father’s real ignorance about it – I have to love him – the cantankerous curmudgeon just doesn’t care).  But friends from childhood? One out of six.  Friends from high school? Two out of six. New neighborhood friends? Two out of six.  And the list goes on.  Old work friends? Two out of four. My husband’s relatives and friends have been more responsive. Of course, there are fewer of them.

So, what does this sudden downturn mean?  Money is really tight and Christmas missives are not in the cards right now (ba-da-bum)?  My friends are worried about their carbon footprints (ew)? No one likes me anymore (that’s just plain crazy talk)? Or, unlike me, more people see the choosing, designing, printing, addressing, and mailing Christmas cards as a burden, and have chosen to give them up this year?  

The first makes me sad because I really do enjoy seeing pictures of my friends’ children and how they have grown through the years, and because out of all the ways to cut expenses, they decided that celebrating and sharing their lives would be among those to go.  The second, well, I’ve talked about that enough elsewhere, but would think an e-card would fit the bill in that circumstance. The third I can handle, but somehow don’t think is true – not for all of them, certainly.  Perhaps the best reason of all, and the one that would give me the greatest satisfaction and the most hope is that people just don’t want to deal with the hassle of it all. Life is good and you should enjoy what you do.  

On the plus side, I received lengthy personal notes from two unexpected sources.  Both expressed a genuine happiness in receiving my Christmas greetings which, in turn, made me quite happy. In fact, those notes helped to skyrocket the overall value, if not the rate, of my return.

Many Happy Returns!


Cheryl said...

Guilty as charged. And I do see it as a hassle and something I just don't want to do. But I enjoyed receiving yours!

Lynne said...

That is unearned guilt my friend (that, happily, I know you really don't have)!

Your comment here is like a little present for me. That's really all I want: little presents for me. Is that asking too much?