In short: the Internet.
In full: In this, the Internet age, I am more, and wonderfully, connected on a daily basis with my friends and family, far and wide, than ever before. We share pictures, and achievements, and love and thoughts and experiences and support nearly instantly, from wherever we are in the world. I think of them every day and, more importantly, now I tell them so, in some way or another, nearly every day.
The sentiment of holiday cards is not lost on me, but it's part of my daily existence now. And that's a good thing. More and more, the cards I receive are pictures pre-printed with greetings, delivered in envelopes with address labels. I enjoy them, and think fondly of the sender whenever I open them, but the cards themselves are little different than the notes and photos we share on line every day.
So instead of sending holiday cards, I donate to charity. This year it's Toys for Tots.
I'm sharing this holiday tradition of mine not to publicize my act of charity, but to spread the idea that perhaps, if you are someone who feels as virtually connected to your loved ones as I do, next year you might consider the same. Instead of picture cards, give to those in need. If you already give, just give a little more. I know it might feel a bit like giving up a holiday tradition, but you can start a new one. Charity, the spirit of giving--those are holiday traditions too.