Where have all the Christmas cards gone?

Noel Christmas card
Noel Christmas card

I admit it. This holiday season, I skipped sending out holiday greeting cards. I told myself it was because I was too busy -- but I'm not sure that's the real reason. Granted, I was busy this year, but was I busier than years past? Or, was this the first step toward turning my back on a ritual long-steeped in history? And a few warm and fuzzies, too.

The first signs of Americans mailing cards to each other came around 1845, but those cards were imported from Europe. They also cost about 5 cents to mail if the recipient lived within 300 miles. In 1875, Louis Prang, a German immigrant, published the first line of U.S. Christmas cards and we've never looked back. Today we send family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers cards adorned with pictures of Santa, our kids and pets, and our kids and pets dressed like Santa. Or at least we were doing that before the bottom fell out of the economy.