So, the Christmas card is apparently falling out of fashion…? Instead people are preferring the seemingly soul-less social media festive greeting or a pre-Christmas text (sent to their entire address book). It got me thinking why… is it time? Cost? Apathy? A cultural shift? Well, let me, just for a while shout out for the humble Christmas card and fight it’s corner just for a moment…
One of the bonuses of working from home some of the week, is that I am here when the postman arrives. He’s nothing to look at and if I’m honest, I reckon we have a different postie everyday anyway. I rarely see him and when I do he always look different! When I was out at work everyday, I would come home to find that someone (normally the Hub) has collected the post from the doorstep and opened anything vaguely addressed to him. Which meant that I would be left with the junkmail/bank statements/bills! They’d be perched on the corner of the dining table, dropped there as he made his way through to the kitchen to grab some lunch and forgotten about. The thing is, I rarely got to open the ‘exciting’ post… the Christmas cards! Sometimes he would leave them propped open, but more often than not added to a pile on the side until I got round to putting them up – not realising who had sent us cards until it was too late to send one back in return….
I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas cards (which swings mostly towards love, I must add!). As a kid in primary school we had the Christmas Card post box and for 2 weeks before the end of term, we could bring our cards into school, drop them into the post box and after each lunchtime, our teacher would hand out the cards that had been delivered. You had to make sure, in order to be delivered correctly, that you wrote the friend’s full name and their class. At my school, classes were numbered 1 through to 13 (class 13 was Mrs Monk’s – a scary Canadian ex-pat, who looked like she’d been ready to retire for entire time I was at school!!!)
Anyway… you’d wait excitedly on the carpet and your teacher would appear, register in one hand and pile of white envelopes in the other… anxiously hoping you wouldn’t be kid who walked away empty-handed! I can remember, even now, the names of those in the class who seemed to walk away with more cards than anyone else… the ever popular kids were the ones that ended up being the PE teacher’s favourite and the one who would always be the first to be picked for team sports (but I’m not bitter!)
What’s my point…? Oh.. yeah… see, my love for Christmas cards started then. Back at Ivy Lane School. I loved receiving them, but I loved writing them more. I took time to select the right card for the right recipient. My mum would buy one of those mix boxes of cards – you know the sort that you only see in discounted card stores these days. The one which had at one end paintings of jolly Father Christmases and houses topped with snow and at the other end a robin on a snow-covered branch and paintings of holly and mistletoe!
I tried very hard to leave the robin and holly cards to the very end, in the hope I wouldn’t need to use them! Can you see why?!
Cards, for all occasions have really developed in recent years. In the right shop, or with the right online supplier, one can buy or design a card for almost any event. Some might even consider the card industry as exploiting such events. I on the other hand love to receive a card, as much as I love sending them, to be honest! (*I must apologise at this point to those who don’t receive a Christmas card from us this year – for which there may be a logical reason – do we have your address? Have you moved recently? Do we see loads of you? Or I may simply have left it behind? Despite declaring a love for sending cards I KNOW I always forget someone at some point!)
However…. we seem to be slowly falling out of love with the Christmas card and this makes me sad! Each day, as I log into social media I notice an increasing number of messages from friends who declare that this year they are abstaining from sending cards and instead will make a donation to a charity of their choice. I have heard the same repeated in the queue at M&S and in the local corner shop…. people electing, for their own reasons to not send cards. “Oh, but it’s OK..” one lady declared, “I put a little note about it on my Facebook page.” Well… that’s OK if ALL your friends are on Facebook (I know mine aren’t) – message received loud and clear. But what about great Aunt Doris who lives in Scarborough, or your mum’s old school friend that you’ve stayed in touch with for.. like.. forever. What about those friends who don’t ‘do’ social media (yes – they are out there!!), or the elderly neighbour whose family live on the other side of the country…. that’s where I start to feel a bit sad. I have some friends who I only hear from once a year – a lovely card, packed with their news and they’re often the first we receive… if I didn’t receive it, I’d worry something had happened. I also have friends who I know eagerly await a card from us – with all our news and an update on how the kids are! But it’s made me wonder if the ‘I donate rather than send cards‘ brigade are actually the ‘I’m being selective who I send cards to‘ brigade? I asked around a few people I knew who were declining to send them this year (incidentally not close enough friends to exchange cards) and I loved their honesty:
“I hate writing cards – always have done – so now I don’t feel guilty when I forget or leave it too late, as I’ve just written a £50 cheque for the local hospice, where my mum was looked after..”
“I’ve never sent cards to anyone, so no one expects them from me. I don’t like receiving them – they just go in the bin anyway. So now I feel a bit better by donating the Air Ambulance.”
One person even admitted to forgetting to send the donation they had pledged, but they ‘didn’t feel it mattered that much’ – yes I can hear your sharp intake of breath there!!
And another friend admitted to sending the old social declaration of donation as a way of not offending those who they decided not to send cards to this year….
And so… I leave you with this thought. If you send cards… I applaud you, if you don’t send cards and donate to a great charity… I applaud you too. Either way… be sure that you mean to get the message out to everyone in your life that you are genuinely thinking of them… make sure you don’t have a Great Aunt Doris in your life who would love to hear from you at Christmas and doesn’t know why you’ve not been in touch this year. And do make sure that your elderly neighbours know you’re thinking of them too – even if you can’t see them and especially if their family won’t be seeing them. I don’t believe I’m in the minority – I do love sending cards – but I am careful not to cover every person who ever said hello to us, or was kind to our kids. But I do still choose my cards carefully (charity ones – no robins or ivy!) and this year, I used my new gorgeous LAMY fountain pen to write them – it makes all the difference!
Sending festive wishes to you all …and to those who I didn’t get a card to on time… here’s one I bought earlier to support the Royal Marines Charitable Trust