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Family Christmas Cards: Festive or Cliché

By Rebecca Nagel

Every Christmas season, my family sits down in front of my dad’s computer to compose the perfect Nagel family Christmas card. We make sure that everyone’s greatest achievements of the year are on display; whether it’s having a lead in a musical, graduating high school, getting a big award, you name it, it’s on the card. Our family prints over two-hundred copies of this card and mails them to friends, family, distant relatives, and colleagues. In return, my family receives hundreds of other family’s Christmas cards including pictures of people we haven’t spoken to in years. These cards are proudly displayed in my kitchen for all to see and are a great conversation starter when we have guests over for holiday festivities.

Now the question is, are these cards festive or just plain cliché? Every year it’s the same thing. Families put together pictures that show them in the best light, sometimes just to brag to their friends and family about how awesome their year was. Well, my daughter graduated college at the age of 16! Wow. Good for her. And me? My son got engaged during his annual trip to Hawaii! Cool. Hawaii sounds neat. What did your family do this year?... Nothing? Well, there’s always next year! But, what if next year you don’t birth a child prodigy or go on an extravagant vacation? That’s the problem. People expect to see major success in these family Christmas cards yet that’s not the reality of everyone’s lives. While the families that had a year full of success would surely think that cards are festive, the people who didn’t have a successful year might think otherwise. They may feel as though they aren’t doing enough or that they are a failure. Festive or not is just one side of the argument, but are these cards cliché?

Absolutely. They are the same thing every year. The same happy images on the same Walgreens or Shutterfly templates. No writing on the back to personalize them or elaborate on the images. Just pictures. In addition to these cards being cliché, will we ever see the end of these annual holiday cards?

This year, I asked my mom whether she thought that this tradition was going to continue in the upcoming years after this generation moves out and has families of their own. I personally think family Christmas cards are going to phase out. My mom thinks otherwise, that this tradition will continue for years to come. So, what is the future of the family Christmas card? I feel that many families have gone digital the past few years by creating cards they post on Facebook or Instagram rather than making a trip to the post office to buy this year’s cutest Christmas stamps. These digital cards are probably going to be the start of the phasing out of Christmas cards. While older generations will probably keep sending cards via snail mail, middle generations will probably continue to make digital cards to post on their social media, and younger generations, including Gen Z, may see the extinction of sending family Christmas cards.

With everything we do already being posted online throughout the year, there will be no need to share what we did that year in a card because everyone will already have seen it. So, even if holiday cards were to be labeled as festive over cliché, their fate is still in the hands of the younger generations. The expansion of social media could be at fault for the inevitable extinction of family Christmas cards in the near future, as people are digitizing so much of their lives already.

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