Although 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.
However, 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???
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…