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Some Christmas Traditions Just Need to Die

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PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- In a season of tradition, change is perhaps the least welcome guest at the holiday table.

Christmas brings beloved films that predate the parents of people watching them. It dedicates television's prime-time hours to Christmas specials nearly half a century old. It forces families to send out obsolete correspondence they wouldn't dare try the rest of the year. It's also the one time of year workers can reasonably expect a party thrown in their honor that doesn't involve stale cake and a bunch of sad folks from accounting singing off-key.

It's a season of cozy, reassuring routine that sometimes -- and we mean sometimes -- just needs to be broken.

This is ground we've tread to our own peril on several occasions. We've tried to impart that just as toxic tinsel and poisonous spray snow have been relegated to Christmases past, so too will high-wattage C7 and C9 lights that cost $8 and $11 to burn for 300 hours -- compared with just 14 cents for LED lights left on for the same amount of time. We've tried to explain that NBC's airings of It's a Wonderful Life and ABC's showings of Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town draw fewer viewers each year and may be relegated to holiday niches.

We're not alone. Last year, Time magazine writer Nina Burleigh bemoaned the death of the family Christmas card and the bad tidings brought upon it by a year packed with social media updates and photo uploads. It just continued a theme that Slate writer Kate Julian embraced two years earlier while blaming Facebook, frugality, nonexistent address books, e-cards and women in the workforce for the demise of family updates and unnatural photo tableaus.

The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal offered an able defense, noting that the U.S. Postal Service still delivered 2 billion pieces of holiday mail last year; the Greeting Card Association estimated an increase to 1.6 billion Christmas cards last year; research firm IBISWorld put holiday card and postage spending at a five-year high of $3.2 billion; and Hallmark posted revenues $4 billion regularly since the mid-2000s. But the demise of Sears Portrait Studio just this year suggests that the way Americans put together those Christmas cards is changing even if the volume of cards they send doesn't.