NO, there is no escaping Christmas cards, not even in these days of recession. For better or worse, they have become one of America's unavoidable, conventional and yet curiously revelatory means of communication. Seemingly carriers of good will, their messages are both specialized and highly descriptive of the condition of U.S. society. The ready availability of MERRY CHRISTMAS, GREAT-GRANDMOTHER cards tells a lot about the longevity of the modern female; great-grandfather cards, by contrast, are less easy to find. Ethnic cards with black, brown or yellow Santas testify to the fact that the American melting pot is still bubbling, despite...

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