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Matt Von Pinnon, Published December 24 2011

Von Pinnon: Will social networking kill the Christmas card?

Forget the presents and the food, though those are nice, too.

Christmastime, for me, is about the Christmas cards.

I usually spend part of Christmas Day reviewing all the cards we were sent from friends and family.

It’s a weird tradition my mother’s family practiced for generations, and I find myself carrying it on.

When my mother and mother’s mother were still alive, they and my sister would jointly review all the cards each of them received separately, sort of an old-fashioned social networking exercise I never fully appreciated at the time.

Yet I find myself more drawn to Christmas cards as I get older.

But I’m a dying breed.

I realized this the other day when editors here got into a conversation about Christmas cards.

Turns out very few of them like to receive them and almost none send them anymore.

I was shocked.

“Why?” I inquired.

Some explained how a lot of the cards are simply braggadocious reviews of a family’s year or accomplishments, very few are personal anymore, and some are just downright goofy.

And, for sure, all those things can be true (which doesn’t make them any less interesting, in my opinion).

But many editors also cited how social networking sites like Facebook have rendered formal Christmas greetings sort of unnecessary because even the smallest of events in a person’s life are known to others almost instantly.

There is no need to catch people up or send a greeting at Christmas because people are always connected today, they reasoned.

I was appalled.

“Have we already come to this?” I thought. “Have we already replaced pen on paper and conventional mail with keyboard strokes and ‘send’?”

I guess, for many people, we have.

And I suppose it could be argued that communication has continued to become less and less formal through the years.

Few cards and notes – whether at Christmastime or not – are still handwritten. Most cards today are manufactured.

We have for years and years sped our production and systems to meet the faster pace of our lives.

Still, I’m thankful that some people still make the time and effort to send greeting cards.

Few things are better than curling up in your favorite chair on Christmas Day and reconnecting with friends and loved ones in an old-fashioned way.

Von Pinnon is editor of The Forum.