If you’re on Facebook or email I’m pretty sure that over the next week or so you’ll start seeing messages along the lines of:
Just so you know we’re not doing Christmas cards this year, but we will be making a donation to charity instead. Merry Christmas everyone and Happy New Year!
That’s all fine and dandy, and everyone’s entitled to do whatever they want, not only at Christmas, but for the rest of the year too. But as someone who hasn’t given up on Christmas cards I thought it about time to actually shout about why I will be sending them this year, and why I’d encourage others to do the same.
Now, let’s not ignore the big elephant in the room here – cost. Yes, cards cost money and yes the price of stamps here in the UK has risen by crazy amounts. I’m pretty sure it’s not just coincidence that the man who invented the world’s first commercial Christmas card (Sir Henry Cole in 1843 in case you were wondering) also helped to invent the Penny Post three years earlier! Compare that to the fact that for free you can easily send an email or Facebook message to someone, and admittedly you also don’t need to worry about old fashioned things like “last postage days before Christmas either”. I won’t lie, these are both attractive things in favour of ditching the old seasonal greeting card, but I’m not finished with them yet.
When I was a child, the postman (or woman!) coming to the door was an exciting event. As well as boring brown envelopes for my mum and dad there was also the possibility of something exciting for me. A letter from a pen pal, a card from a relative, or possibly even something really exciting like a letter from Bunty magazine telling me that my letter to them was going to be published – it happened once! Whilst away at school I would write letters home and to my grandparents and look forward to getting something in return.
Times have changed though and nowadays my kids FaceTime with their Granny and apart from the odd postcard on holiday the post passes them by. The same happened for me too and the chances of the post containing anything more exciting than a reminder to book the next mass family visit to the dentist were slim. Then about two years ago a group of us who had met online (I know, the irony isn’t missed on me) and were stationery lovers started embracing snail mail again and sending each other cards, letters and small parcels. I may not be the best at writing or responding in a timely fashion, but I have to say that I love the days that the postman brings something handwritten through the door. Just the thought that these people have sat down, put pen to paper, found an envelope and stamp and walked to the nearest postbox actually means a huge amount to me. I’ve had friends tell me more in a letter than they would usually mention in an email or Facebook message – the whole thing is just so much more personal and intimate.
And that is why this Christmas I am determined to go that extra mile for my friends and family. To take the time to sit down and write a card which contains more than the basic “hope to actually see you next year” message that so many of us have become used to scrawling year after year. To write accompanying letters telling people what we’ve been up to (the good and the bad) and for those relatives who aren’t on Facebook include some up to date photos of the kids. I want to ask people about how their 2015 has been? To ask after the friends who don’t love social media as much as I do, and to actually make some plans with friends that I have not seen in far far too long.
Yes Christmas cards can seem like a faff, especially if you’re just signing your name in them and nothing more, but if done properly they can bring joy to people, and can be a sign to a friend that you really are thinking about them more than just adding their name to the to field of an email. If you’re sending them to people you care about then it shouldn’t be a chore. And who knows, for just one of those friends it might be that receiving a card where personal thought and effort has gone into it is what helps get them through which might be a difficult Christmas for one reason or another. After all that’s what friends are for.
So don’t give up on Christmas cards altogether, but at the same time I promise not to keep lists of who does and doesn’t send them to us!