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'Tis the Season for the Good Old Fashioned Post Office

By sending a real holiday card with a real stamp metro St. Louis residents can support local artists and charities--and maybe even give the flagging U.S. Postal Service a boost.

By sending a real holiday card with a real stamp metro St. Louis residents can support local artists and charities--and maybe even give the flagging U.S. Postal Service a boost.

There's a Stamps.com commercial that makes this bold assertion: "There's nothing worse than standing in line at the post office."

Really?

It's this kind of statement that may be contributing to the U.S. Postal Service's financial and operational woes. Stamps.com and other online postage vendors would have us believe that printing postage at home is the next best thing to the Internet. 

And there's another commercial from Stamps.com; in which the prospect of a post office run strikes a nameless fear into the hearts of office workers.

(Not to be left out of the online retail game, the U.S. Postal Service sells a wide range of postage and other items on its website).

A reassuring routine

Many of my activities take place in the virtual life: work, shopping, social networking, professional development, reading, viewing movies.

I draw the line at cards to celebrate holidays, birthdays and other special occasions. (Full disclosure, I did send a few e-cards when they first became popular).

I for one, don't mind a trip to my nearest post office. It's . I occasionally use the upscale and much . 

For me there is something comforting about the post office; whether you're in or , you can find one. The folks there sell stamps and a range of supplies for packing, mailing and shipping. And, your post office is the only place in town to apply for a U.S. Passport. 

It may also be the only place in town to see federal workers wearing Santa hats around the holidays.

'Tis the seaon for holiday cards

Part of what gets me into the spirit of the season is writing out holiday greeting cards to friends, colleagues and family. When that's done I head to the post office to what kinds of seasonal stamps may be on offer. 

Then, I peel and stick. Peel and stick. Usually standing up, as most post offices don't have much--if any--seating.

This year my first holiday card came from Gregg Palermo, editor of Creve Coeur Patch, and his wife Melanie. It gets a place of honor on my bookshelf where, I hope, others will soon join it. 

It's a fact that I get fewer actual holiday cards than in years past. I do get quite a few e-cards, but printing out an e-card and trying to prop it up on a shelf or mantel is frustrating and--face it--a little sad.

I really enjoy the photo cards that some of friends send each year. It's great to see families expand and kids grow up, or enjoy a great shot from a friend's exotic vacation.

Counting (holiday) cards

In addition to big guys of the greeting card industry (Hallmark, American Greetings), here are a few unique ways to express seasonal wishes:

  • St. Louis area charities. Check out which includes a list of local groups that offer holiday cards.
  • Local artists. in Webster Groves carries a selection of locally crafted cards. Also, check out Firecracker Press for made-in-St. Louis greeting cards.
  • A quick Google search for "St. Louis Holiday Cards" yielded an online vendor called Salem Designs, which offers holiday cards with St. Louis scenes.
  • Our friends at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch sell locally-themed cards, too. Visit their online store.
  • UNICEF cards: For worldier holiday wishes, you can order these card from Shop UNICEF online and Amazon. Also find them at Pier 1 and Barnes & Noble stores. Proceeds benefit global children's causes. (Full disclosure: I have worked with UNICEF in Belize on journalism training programs).

Where do you find unique or special holiday cards? Please tell us in the comments section.

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