DEAR MISS MANNERS: Every December, I sit down with my address book and write holiday greetings to those near and far. I inquire about family members, comment on recent events, share news of my own life, etc. In essence, each card is a short letter.
I am always delighted to receive cards from others, but I am often disappointed with what I receive. Inside a beautiful card, addressed by hand, is often only the following: “Dear (name), Happy Holidays! (Sender name)”
Am I wrong for thinking that sending cards like this is improper? To me, it feels like sending someone a carefully wrapped box without anything inside. But it seems to be in vogue. Am I missing something? Have I misunderstood the tradition?
GENTLE READER: Which tradition? Yours is charming, but a mere greeting, with a real signature, is not improper. It is a bit like saying “Hi” in passing, rather than stopping to chat.
Miss Manners suspects that the annual one-on-one catching-up that you so graciously do will become even more rare. People who have been posting their every move and meal on social media all year don’t have that much left to tell.
She urges you to keep alive the traditional concept – not so much that of reporting on yourself, although you will include that, but of asking after others. That is what has been lost in the epidemic of “sharing.”
Perhaps your correspondents will appreciate your interest enough to respond in kind. In any case, you will have shown them that greetings can go beyond “Hi” or the “Like” button.