You can’t download it onto your iPod or MP3 player. It doesn’t have a plasma screen, and there is nothing high-definition about it. People don’t trample each other the day after Thanksgiving to buy one.

But still, the simple pieces of folded paper known as holiday greeting cards fly off the shelves, especially at this time of year.

The U.S. Postal Service says 20 billion cards, letters and packages will be delivered between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Close to 2 billion holiday cards will go from one thoughtful person’s mailbox to another, according to the Greeting Card Association. And even with the advent of free e-greetings, paper cards aren’t going away anytime soon, the trade group says.

"Despite common theories, e-greetings or e-cards and traditional paper-based cards don’t really compete or substitute for one another," said Barbara Miller, spokeswoman for the Greeting Card Association. "They’re very different mediums."

‘Deeper meaning’
Greeting cards are an emotional platform that have remained true to tradition over the years. Miller said icons such as Christmas trees, snow scenes and angels dominate card choices on the shelves, although a new twist or trend isn’t out of the question. Offerings for celebrations such as Hanukkah and Kwanzaa also have become more popular.

"An e-card is fun and it’s instantaneous, and the sender and receiver recognize that," Miller said. ”A greeting card has far more sentimental value. You send one for a longer-lasting, deeper meaning."

E-cards tend to make an appearance for those holidays with a less emotional pull, such as St. Patrick’s Day, Bosses Day or Halloween.

Naperville’s post office branches already are reporting an increase in the amount of mail coming through.

”We’ve noticed there’s been a pickup in the amount that is being sent over the weekend in particular,” Naperville postmaster Dennis Lyons said, noting that when staff arrives Monday they will find a high volume of mail waiting.

Part of that could be because of military mail, recommended sent by Dec. 4 if bound for Iraq or Afghanistan. For those with domestic packages, Dec. 15 is the deadline for sending something by parcel post if you want it under the tree by Christmas Day. Other, costlier options can allow you to delay shipping until Dec. 20 or Dec. 22.

To keep people from becoming Scrooge-like because of long lines and long waits, Lyons is pushing the use of the automated postal centers. People can use the machines at all hours of the day, every day, to prepare packages for mailing.

Via: Chicago Sun-Times