Normally by Dec. 19, a window ledge in my dining room is overflowing with Christmas cards lined up side by side, adding a festive, friendly feel to my holiday decor.
But this year, the ledge is lacking.
So far, I've received exactly six Christmas cards.
I was starting to take it personally, counting up all the reasons I may have been crossed off Christmas card lists this year — including the fact that I haven't sent any cards since about 2007.
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But then I mentioned my cardlessness to friends and co-workers and was somewhat relieved to learn that they also were experiencing an unexplained and sudden card drought.
Apparently, we're not imagining it.
Research firm Mintel International Group reported a decline in Christmas card sales last year. And according to statistics provided by the greeting card industry, Americans are expected to send 1.5 billion Christmas cards through the mail this season, down from 1.8 billion last year.
I think the .3 billion decline is largely focused on my address. Sniff. Sniff sniff.
Theories abound as to why Christmas carding has been curtailed this year.
The economy is one apparent culprit, as people look for ways to cut corners. And let's face it — if you're popular (or think you are) your Christmas card postage bill will be hefty.
But the main hypothesis is that social media, especially Facebook, have diminished some of the need for Christmas cards.
People are now keeping up with the activities and photos of faraway relatives, former neighbors and old classmates on a daily basis, thanks to the magic of the Internet, so the need for that once-a-year "how ya doin'?" that Christmas cards provided isn't as urgent.
Local Christmas card enthusiast Jana Curl said she is consumed with holiday guilt over the fact that she won't send out Christmas cards this year for the first time in years.
"I love doing Christmas cards," she said. "I think it's a lost art to have a handwritten card. I've always tried very hard to make that a tradition."
She has a good excuse: She's pregnant and a little tired at night.
But she's also noticed a lack of cards coming in.
"I'm wondering what's going on," she said. "I've gotten two. I probably have maybe 12 by now, if not more."
As long as it's not just me...
All new KAKEman
A few years ago, KAKE got the idea to resurrect Toy Boy, aka KAKEman, the high-pitched puppet who charmed children in Wichita every Christmas from 1954 until 1992.
It was so well received that the station decided last year and again this year to make new KAKEman episodes.
This season, it made 10 new installments of the show, which features Santa and KAKEman frolicking about the workshop.
New episodes started a week ago, and five more will air this week at 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday on KAKE, Channel 10.
You also can catch episodes at kake.com/santasworkshop.