5) Facebook. Also known as the "I already know what you did last summer" theory. This is the one that most appeals to us. It checks the "Why now?" box. And when you look back at the Christmas card's evolution, it feels almost inevitable.
Once, not so long ago, people picked out a card they liked, wrote something inside, sent it off, and that was that. Then came the photo card. Even though some people initially found adding personal photos to cards a self-involved move, it soon became the default for people with kids. Meanwhile, the home computer was enabling another innovation: The holiday form letter, an immodest chronicle of a family's Very Busy, Very Exciting year. Somewhere along the way, between the photos and the form letters, the holiday card stopped being a note from one person to another and started being a mass broadcast.
But now, with Facebook so thoroughly insinuated into our lives, we already know where our friends (and our "friends") went on vacation, what they look like right now, and whether they've recently switched jobs. As Rachael put it, "You are already in touch with people you normally only talk to a few times a year, and they are already seeing pictures of your kids." In 2010, people don't need to wait for December to brag. They've been doing it all year.
What do you think—are we right that the Christmas card is going out of style? If so, what's the reason? And is this trend to be celebrated or mourned? Take our reader poll below or weigh in with a comment. We will be watching our mailboxes, and your replies, anxiously. And if you tell us it's not a trend after all, that it really is personal, we'll try to take it in stride.
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