Stan has two gifts that keep on giving

The holiday season is here. Sidewalk Santas ringing their bells are out in full force. Stores are decorated beautifully. Seasonal music is everywhere.

Most of us are smiling because we’re celebrating the Chanukah and Christmas time of year. Black Friday has come and gone and I’ll bet you 50 cents that your gift list is far from finished. The thought of walking out in the slush and fighting the crowds. Oy, vey. And you haven’t the foggiest inkling of what to get for Aunt Sarah and Uncle Bernie.

OK, gang. I have a great idea. You can save a few bucks and do your gift giving without ever leaving your desk. Google the following words: “discount magazine subscriptions.” You’ll come up with several websites that offer well-known and some not-so-well-known subscriptions that will satisfy every taste and age.

There are magazines on travel, science, glamour, and sports, along with magazines for teenagers and children. You name the subject, they are there — at great prices.

You’ll notice many items for as little as five bucks and the recipients of these gifts will be thinking about you all year long.

I realize that this sounds like a TV commercial, but since it takes a few weeks for most subscriptions to start, I suggest you do it now. Please let me know how you make out.

Now how about your Christmas card list? Who are you dropping? Who are you adding?

About 15 years ago, the National Greeting Card Association boasted sales that topped 2.7 billion cards. Last year it barely made 1.5 billion. There are two big reasons for this, and both deal with a suffering economy.

• Have you noticed the prices on the cards? A picture on a folded piece of heavyweight paper with a sentiment inside created by a seventh grader is not worth five, four, or even three bucks a pop. Then add the cost of postage.

• We’re in the age where many send their cards free of charge via the Internet. Upon receiving such a greeting, someone I know recently asked me, “Don’t you think she’s being cheap?”

“Stop it,” I replied. “At least she’s thinking of you.”

What are your thoughts on this?

I’m from the old school that still believes in greeting cards via snail mail. Even though I care enough to send the very best, I’ll be dammed if I’m going to send out 30 cards at three bucks each.

I get my cards free of charge from the various charities I support throughout the year. Carol and I handwrite personal sentiments on the blank left hand side of each. As for the postage stamps, there I do something a bit different. I visit the post office and buy colorful commemorative stamps. I’ve been using commemorative stamps on my outgoing mail for many years. The reason for this goes way back to when I was about eight or nine years old.

In those days there were two mail deliveries a day. The second daily delivery to 698 Stone Ave. in Brownsville was shortly after 3 pm, just about the time I came home from school. I patiently waited with my neighbors for the postman to finish his delivery. Many of the residents in our building were foreigners and they would receive letters from friends and relatives who still lived in their former countries.

Other residents received envelopes with U.S. stamps on them. The stamps on those envelopes were different, colorful, and educational. Most of my neighbors were happy to give me their used postage stamps and, at no cost to me, I became a philatelist.

From these beginnings I created what is now a large collection of foreign, U.S. and United Nations stamps. For as far back as I could remember, I’ve mailed out my letters with commemorative stamps which, by the way, are the same price as regular stamps.

I am StanGershbein@Bellsouth.net asking you to please mail your cards and letters with commemoratives. There just might be a polite youngster at the other end who is starting a wonderful hobby.

Read Stan Gershbein's column every Monday on BrooklynDaily.com.

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