Douglas Arvidson is a past winner of the WICE/Paris Transcontinental International Short Story competition. His short fiction has been published in Paris, Prague, and in literary magazines in the United States and he was recently invited to be a staff writer for the Prague Revue, a cutting-edge, online literary journal ( The novels in his fantasy series, The Eye of the Eye of Stallion, include The Face in Amber, The Mirrors of Castaway Time, and A Drop of Wizard's Blood. His new novel, Brothers of the Fire Star, was selected as a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year national awards and as a finalist in three categories in the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards: Action Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. It has become part of the pantheon of Pacific literature and is now included in school literature programs. Brothers of the Fire Star is an adventure story set in the Pacific during World War II and concerns two boys of different races and cultures who escape the island of Guam in a small sailboat when the Japanese army invades. They must then struggle to survive as they master the secrets of the ancient Pacific navigators. Appropriate for young adults as well as adult readers, Brothers of the Fire Star is available on Barnes & Noble, ( and Visit the author's website:

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Still Sending Christmas Cards? Some Thoughts on the Existential Merits of Snail Mail Holiday Greetings

Here's the tree, here's Terry working on Christmas cards. This scene which I captured this morning on my little pocket Pentax caused me to question the ancient tradition (started by Hallmark) of receiving and sending cards from and to friends/dentists/credit card companies/and publishers in this age of Facebook/blogs/and chat rooms.

Why bother? We are connected, for better or for worse, via the Internet in a profound, daily, world-wide way with anyone who was formerly only heard from once a year or two or three through a Christmas card. Gone is the fun of hearing from a long-lost pal and learning, in his own handwriting, the letters surrounded by silver bells and snowscapes, that he now lives on a tropical island with the German au pair he ran off with two years ago. Now we get all that dirt immediately and first hand on Facebook or on his blog or by breathless emails from friends of the friend.

Still, the cards come in and we are always glad to get them, to read the extended letter inside that says life is wonderful, and to post them on the mantel or around the doorway and see how far we can make them stretch. Not as many this year? Probably because last year you failed to send a card to everyone who sent a card to you. Miffed, they dropped you from their list after one failed Christmas greeting. Ah, true and abiding friendship. At least that's the guilt trip we lay on ourselves. Actually, I have a friend whose favorite game is ignore someone this Christmas and then send them a card the next Christmas. Keeps them off balance.

I wrote my share of the cards this year. I sat at the kitchen table, picked up a pen, and put on my best penmanship learned in the old days when they used to teach a dignified and proper cursive. Still, the ideas for a dignified and proper greeting to match the writing were hard to come up with. "Happy Holidays?" No, it already says that inside the card. "How are things going? They're going great here!" No, you've been telling them all that all year on Facebook. I was at a loss until I realized that all I had to do was sign my name. No soul-touching message required. We'll save the soul-touching for the privacy of the Internet.

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