Is the Greeting Card Dying?
By Joel Indrupati
“ There’s an old Christmas card in an old dusty trunk And it brings back sweet memories dear to me ‘Tho it’s faded and worn, it’s as precious as the morn When I found it ‘neath our first Christmas tree.”
As this song of Jim Reeves softly played in a shopping mall in Bahrain, it brought back memories of my childhood.
When Christmas cards were, really, an important thing.
The thrill was not only in receiving them by post but also in going to greeting card shops and choosing the cards.
Finding the right card for the right person was a special art.
The pictures, designs, and, most importantly, the wordings were important.
Especially, if you wanted to wish your faraway friends, your displaced family, or that special someone!
With postal networks busy at that time, you had to even plan your mailing effectively, if you wanted your loved ones to receive the cards in time.
This new digital age now, with its Internet browsing, email communication and social media sharing, has given us the convenience of speed, choice, and creativity.
But it has also – sadly – killed the charm and romance of ‘the greeting card.’
Beautiful hand-written, personal lines are used to evoke a special sense of joy and elation.
I might sound incredibly old fashioned.
But I ask myself, what do the new age iconoclasts, these young ones on mobile phones, know what they have missed?
Can their snap chatting – with contorted faces, enormous eyeglasses, elongated noses, cat-whiskers cheeks, and flowers in their heads - ever replace the joy and thrill we had gotten once from mere paper?
Or how those simple scribbles from our creative friend, uplifted us!
A Christmas favourite of Carpenters has these words: “Greeting cards have all been sent The Christmas rush is through But I still have one wish to make A special one for you!” But today, the greeting card itself is through.
“Is 2014 the year the Christmas card died?” asked an article in The Guardian (6 December 2014).
It hinted that “a younger generation that prefers social media” is killing off a 171-year old tradition.
But then, “Christmas cards survive the digital age by going upmarket ” declared another article in The Telegraph (17 December 2016).
It said that “a study by the Royal Mail has found that 72 per cent of people who celebrate Christmas would prefer to receive printed cards”.
However, “Holiday cards are having a moment, thanks to their popularity with millennials” according to Patrick Priore, Paper Source’schief product officer.
He says that 2021 holiday card sales are up 14 per cent compared with 2019, in the USA (Washington Post, 8 Dec 2021).
But I doubt if it will stay.
It is more like a pandemic aberration than a serious trend.
The big question is who would still prefer to go, buy, and post greeting cards?
The tradition of exchanging greeting cards seems to be on its deathbed.
It is in the decline stage of its product life cycle. We should accept the inevitable.
Like all good things, at least, these cards did not end.
They just evolved into different forms on digital platforms.
The survival of greeting card companies like American GreetingsandHallmarkcan is attributed only to their technological adaptability.
Their willingness to offer digital options to their customers.
Today, we can create our computer animations.
Our personalised cards; with templates of Christmas pictures and customizable videos, like those on JibJab.com.
But then, a printed card, with handwritten words, is simply irreplaceable.
My feelings are like Jim Reeves,’ who sings, “Guess I’m always sentimental ‘round this time Pardon me if a tear falls among my Christmas cheer It’s the memory of an old Christmas card...”