Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Christmas-Tree-Wallpaper-christmas-8142630-1024-768Although I like the speed and convenience of email, text messages, Facebook and tweets (that’s a fib, I don’t understand how Twitter works…), I adore receiving a tangible letter or card through the post.  It doesn’t have to be much, a postcard or scribbled note will do.  There’s something heart-warming to think that someone thought of you and actually went to the effort of finding just the right card, sitting down to write a cheerful message, then sticking on a stamp before battling through hail or gale-force winds to the postbox.

I’m even more ardent about Christmas cards.  Ok, an e-card is (just about) better than nothing but I love the festiveness of putting all my cards up on the mantelpiece, admiring the diversity of all those cute snowmen, nativity scenes and semi-clad Santas displaying their Christmas baubles.   As someone living abroad, far from family and friends, it brings a spark of joy to my day if I receive a jolly Christmas card from home. Christmas can be a lonely time for many (not just ex-pats) and Christmas cards are a small way to bring a bit of happiness to one another.

They can also be a fulfilling experience for the sender.  I love the ritual of writing my cards; Christmas carols playing in the background, enjoying a glass of mulled wine and a couple of mince pies.  Thinking of those I’m sending cards to and remembering the times we’ve shared together: good or bad, intense or light-hearted, drunk or sober.

3701b2af57e80243fa85a4dc585d54c1However, that was all in the past.  The huge number of friends who don’t send cards anymore has worn me down and I don’t think I can be bothered this year.  It’s so belittling to send a Christmas card to someone only to be told in a supercilious tone, ‘Thanks for the card.  Of course, we don’t send them anymore.  We give to charity instead.’

What a cop-out.  I think they’re two completely separate things.  It’s like me saying, ‘Oh, I’m not sending Christmas cards this year because I need the money for my wine fund,’ or ‘I won’t be giving you a Christmas present because I’ve spent the money on cake.’

Why not do both?  Most people in my ‘social set’ (ooooh, get her) can afford to send a few cards as well as donate a tenner to charity.   I’m not talking about sending cards to everyone you’ve ever met but it’s nice to show close friends and family that you’re thinking of them over the festive season.   Surely giving to charity can be a year round activity, not just confined to Christmas?  At other times of the year people don’t say, ‘I’m not sending you a Birthday card this year; I’m donating to charity instead.’

I’m always a little tempted to check-up on those who send an email stating their intention to donate to charity.   ‘Could I see your receipt from the RSPCA for your donation please?  Oh, lost it have we?  Rather convenient…’   Why not just tell everyone, ‘I can’t be arsed to buy a load of cards, spend hours of my precious time writing cards, addressing envelopes then driving to the postbox, when I could be at home drinking Babycham and watching X-Factor.’   Actually, I do have one friend who says this and, you know what?  I totally respect her for it!

And to those who moan about what a waste of money cards and stamps are – well, surely we all waste money like that every day?  Buying a newspaper?  Daily cappuccino?  Or my real bugbear – spending hundreds of euros a month on utility bills???Christmas-christmas-36046291-500-313

What do you think?  Are Christmas cards a total waste of money, time and trees?  Or a wonderful way to keep in touch at this special time of year??   There’s still time for me to be converted back to a Devoted Sender of Christmas Cards!  Mind you, I may have offended most of my friends with this post so I won’t need to send many…

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52 thoughts on “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”

  1. I don’t even know most of my friends addresses! Since they all moved in with boyfriends/hubbies etc! I can find my way to most of their houses but I couldn’t tell you the address if you paid me. So first I’d have to send everyone emails to get their addresses, and then spend hours (well, probably more like an hour) writing cards…

    I do agree that the charity thing is a cop out though! My family did that one year instead of giving gifts. We sent a goat somewhere. It was a miserable Christmas 😉

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    1. Ha ha, hope the goat had a better Christmas than you did! Although, thinking about it – was it destined to end up in a curry?? Maybe it didn’t have such a good Christmas after all…

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      1. I think it was for an African village or something. They probably didn’t know how to make curry 😉 Another year we got a ‘present for the family’ instead of individual presents. A wii – I don’t think the thing ever came out of the box 😉 Selfish presents are the way forward!

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  2. I send neither cards nor e-cards (talking of those, was there ever anything more impersonal invented?!). Justifiably, I also receive very few…

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  3. I love Christmas cards! It’s really disappointing that fewer people are sending them each year. I say we should start a ‘Keep the Christmas Card Alive’ campaign!

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  4. You are one of the people whose blog I still read since I stopped having time to blog myself. I love Christmas cards!

    Laughing at the above goat comment too. My Granny was asked by my Aunt once whether she understood about her Christmas Oxfam goat present. She said ‘Yes, I understand you’ve given my Christmas present to someone else’ 🙂

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    1. I’m not a prolific blogger so hopefully you’ll carry on having time to read me! Excellent comment from your Granny; she sounds superb, like Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey!!

      Hope to see you back blogging soon 🙂

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  5. My mother is a total holiday card stickler, so I will get a major side-eye of scorn if I dont write special and meaningful and original ones. I’m sending out my Christmas cards this week – they take 3 weeks to get to the US! On the other hand, the birthday card my best friend (in the US) sent me in mid-September (for my late-Oct bday), just got here last week, so it could be worse.

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    1. Excellent, I’ll look forward to my card arriving soon 🙂

      The post in Italy is just as bad. A friend in Rome texted me in mid-January to say thank you for the Christmas card. She commented that it obviously took a long time to get the post from England to Italy. I had actually posted it in Rome at the beginning of December!

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  6. I love cards and I love sending them. But…I had a hard time finding them here in Genova. Last year I bought some while back home and then filled out ten to mail out. I happily went to the post office to mail them and nearly fell over when she told me the cost of postage! Then I was told to go to the Tabacchini to buy regular stamps. Why I was not able to do that at the Post Office in the first place is mind boggling. Anyway, it was still expensive for my budget and this year I opted not to do it 😦

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    1. Yes, I’ve noticed that cards aren’t as popular in Italy either as in the UK…which is why I stocked up in the UK in the summer!! I’ve got one more set of guests coming before Christmas so have a cunning plan to save on postage by getting them to post my cards in the UK 🙂 Will you send Christmas emails or do a Merry Christmas blogpost??

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      1. I won’t send emails. Too impersonal. Do you know the woman at the post office suggested that it was cheaper to send text messages to my loved ones! I will try and phone or Skype who I can as I will be on the ship and can make calls for free. And maybe just narrow down the cards to two or three if I send any at all in the future. I love getting cards and taping them to the door or windows. But sadly, I don’t get any.
        I will for sure write some sort post on my blog too 🙂

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          1. Ah, sweet! I won’t be here anyway. I did put a tree up today but I will go to my husband’s ship as usual. I really hate cruising for the holidays and last year I went to Canada and had a traditional celebration but it would have been nicer to have shared it with my husband too. He rarely gets the holidays off. I hope you get lots of cards 😉

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  7. Cards in the UK have gone waaaay too far. Nobody else does this (except for maybe Japan…?) – it’s complete madness. Giving them to everybody at work??? Where do you stop?! Used to drive me mad, this peculiar custom. I send them to family and people who I don’t see very often but feel close to.

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    1. I do agree with you that it’s a step too far to give them to everyone at work, even people you detest (but if you’re doing a card for everyone else, you’d better not leave them out..). But to receive them thorough the post brings a smile to my face 🙂

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  8. You go, girl! I loved your Christmas card rant. Unfortunately Christmas cards are now archived in my “childhood memory” department… The French don’t do them -they prefer very sober New Year’s cards that cost a mint. I loved hanging them over strings around the front room and laughing when the string broke and they all fell on the floor. My mum recycles them – I used to love cutting out the pictures with serrated scissors to use as gift tags 🙂

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    1. I still love cutting up all the cards, they make the best quality gift tags – very Blue Peter! Talking of BP, do you remember the Christmas crown they used to do each year with the candles?? Wonder if they still do it?

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        1. Ahh, Blue Peter brings back lots of happy memories! I’ve had a look on their website but they don’t mention the Christmas crown so I’m going to have to watch it from now until Christmas…get down Shep!

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    1. Not to mention the Quality Street, mint Matchmakers, a selection of M&S party treats and a Heston’s hidden orange Christmas pudding… Don’t worry about the Ferrero Rocher – they’re Italian!

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  9. I think handwritten cards or letters are fabulous. It’s like a small present in the mail. I’ve just started a pen-pal session with one of my students, she’s writing letters to my nieces in Canada and she can’t wait to receive something in the mail. Since email came around a lot of people are too lazy to write an old fashioned Christmas card, how sad. I still do however. 🙂

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    1. Yay, you can join the ‘Keep Christmas Cards Alive’ campaign!! Pen-pals are awesome, I had a few as a child and it was so exciting to receive a letter from abroad! Actually, it still is 😉

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  10. I am totally with you on this – we were obviously brought up well! You will of course be receiving my cards in the post very soon … all chosen with much thought and sent with love!

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  11. I love receiving Christmas cards, and choosing nice ones to send. I have cut back a little recently and now don’t tend to send them to people I see all the time ( everyone at work). The cards I most enjoy receiving are the ones with a note inside with all the family news (I don’t even mind if it takes the form of a round robin type letter!).

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  12. It’s like me saying, ‘Oh, I’m not sending Christmas cards this year because I need the money for my wine fund,’ or ‘I won’t be giving you a Christmas present because I’ve spent the money on cake.’
    🙂 🙂 🙂 Hear hear!
    Sadly since I live in Italy, it is pretty much guaranteed that 90% of all cards I may send will get lost in the post and spend the next 20 years in a post office warehouse somewhere in Genova, but so what? It’s the thought that counts. Cards are more fun than goats!

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    1. Glad you agree. Yes, the Italian postal service isn’t the most reliable in the world is it? And the post boxes resemble bins so I sometimes worry that I’m just putting my letters straight into the rubbish!

      ps I haven’t spent enough time with any goats to confirm if cards are more fun or not!! 😉

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      1. Yes, they look just like bins, don’t they!!! Sometimes I think, if we put our letters in bins in Italy, they might have a better chance of reaching the correct destination!

        My mother had a pet goat when she was a child, in London, and took it for a long walk on Hampstead Heath every weekend. She swears goats are more intelligent and have more personality than a great many humans she has known. So there’s one person who would be happier to get a goat from me than a Christmas card – but only one!

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  13. I don’t mind sending Christmas cards, though my list has gone way down from years past. I do get one card from a friend I only really hear from at Christmastime. She includes a lovely letter and sometimes a photo about what’s been happening over the course of the year. I really cherish that letter and look forward to it. Something much different than sending e-cards!

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  14. I LOVE Christmas cards, and spent my evening yesterday writing them. It’s a healthy version of Facebook: there’re friends living abroad I haven’t seen in flesh for the past decade but I love receiving a picture of their family at Xmas, and a few words about how they are. Way more romantic than spying their album on facebook and exchanging a fast message online. For the same reason I can’t stomach those sending empty cards. With not even a personal note beside the print wishes. AAAAARGH! They drive me crazy.

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    1. Writing Christmas cards is a lovely way to spend an evening; makes you stop and think about family and friends. Yes, empty cards are pointless, bit like the ones you get from your dentist or insurance company!!

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  15. Ooo… Babycham and X factor, the perfect combination 🙂 I love Christmas cards, especially if they have glitter! It’s so lovely when you are far from home to get a handwritten card. And I brought a big tin of quality street back with me from the uk, not that I even like them, it’s just the law that you have to have them at Christmas. That and the fact that they cost 30 dollars a tin over here! £4 in morrisons! I mean, how could I not, now anyone for quality street…. Anyone….?
    Jane x

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    1. Ooh, yes please – a purple one for me! I’m sure they come down in price every year (in the UK, nowhere else!) I agree, handwritten cards are a lovely touch of home at Christmas that let you know you haven’t been forgotten 😉

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