Common trends, thankful notes in greeting cards

Today is “Sent and Received,” as I follow up the holidays with a Shana Tova count!
Every year, I send out many written greetings in advance of Rosh Hashanah. I envision them as postal birds, flying with my good wishes into the mailboxes of family members and friends, most of whom live far away. And every year, I open up and set out all the cards I receive on my dining room sideboard, so that I can enjoy them until the season ends. They don’t get taken down until I come home from celebrating Simchat Torah.
It’s fun to note certain things. First: there’s always at least one “card of the year,” a new design offered by Hallmark or American Greetings, so it’s not a surprise to receive one duplicate or even more. Second: so many cards are now identified as originating with Jewish organizations of all types; ranging from women’s groups to men’s yeshivas, and everything in between. When used, these are meant to identify their senders as supporters of the supplying institutions. But we know that all of them have come as “gifts” to potential donors, with high hopes of money being sent back in return. They flow to us annually in a steady stream, whether we use them and contribute or just use them, period.
This same ploy, this not-so-subtle way of begging with bait, is also used by many of the same groups in advance of Hanukkah, and a smaller number are now even weighing in before Pesach. The premise must pay off, because many secular organizations too send Christmas and birthday cards, thank-you notes, memo pads, etc., to be used freely — although always with high hopes that the recipient won’t consider them “free,” but will respond by return mail with money in any amount. I’ll never know how many of my ”charitable” Shana Tovas represent actual donations to the worthy causes that supplied them!
Before this year, I didn’t think much about how many cards I’d sent or received; I just put the latter on display, to smile at throughout the season. However, someone recently mentioned to me that he’d received only three Shana Tovas this year. I asked him how many he’d sent; his answer (almost none!) had me mentally walking a new path: How many had I myself sent?  And how many were now looking back at me from my sideboard?  So I counted. Outbound: 44 — easy to determine because I keep a list as I address them, which assures that I neither forget nor duplicate. Inbound: 28 — of which only five are of the organizational “gift” variety. Not a bad balance, considering how many people today have given up writing any Shana Tovas at all, and send their greetings strictly by email. My inbox has been bulging too, but frankly, I‘m fonder of the postal variety.
Mailing cards costs so much more in time and effort as well as money — not worth the trouble and expense for many these days. But for me, those outlays are minor because I really enjoy this kind of keeping-in-touch. I select the cards I send from different assortments, and sometimes they’re not real, dedicated Shana Tovas at all; I’ll often choose an all-purpose card whose picture or sentiment I think is right for a certain individual, and then add my own new year greeting. Of course I write personal notes on all.
Some people say this is foolish in our age of electronic communication. But for me, the reaching-out of pen on paper is an essential part of every holiday season. So I’ll do it again at Hanukkah and Christmastime, as I also do every year.
And I recycle!  After Simchat Torah, I’ll reread all my cards, and when the front of one is attractive and unblemished, I’ll carefully separate it from its message and stow it away, perhaps to become a second-time Shana Tova next year!

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Susan L Schy

    Would like to see samples of Rosh Hashanah Greetings. My phone number is 972-661-1131

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