The month of November has zipped past, and I was slightly shocked earlier today to notice Christmas cards were being displayed in receipients’ windows… and I’m struggling to find any enthusiasm at all for sending any myself this year.
Christmas cards. Ok, for a moment let’s step away from the fact that Christmas is not part of my own tradition, and anyway it is nowadays more of a secular family get-together. And, again for now, let’s not remark on the dreadful commercial ethos of the festival, which drains the pockets of every family and perhaps more from those who can least afford it. But the card thing…
We send cards because we want people to know we’re still here. If they know we’re still here it’s because we interact with them on a regular basis, and so the sending and receiving of cards is superfluous and simply habitual. In a sense, it’s a feat of ego and a gift to ones self to send out these annual memos of our continued existence. It’s far easier to poke the memory of distant and generally disregarded friends and family with a piece of stiff paper than to craft the relationship you only allude to within the discarded (ah-ha) envelope.
These trifles are not cheap either, in financial terms or environmental. In the years past we sent out up to two hundred cards, and received a similar amount in return (begs the question would a card be incoming of the outgoing one had not happened). One might buy charity cards, where a proportion – a tiny proportion – of the cost would be diverted to good causes, but even then all these tree-bits end up in recycling, or worse, mixed landfill!
A first class stamp in the UK now costs about a quid – call it a quid including the charity card. There’s a couple of hundred quid you’ve spent on employing a few casual staff in filthy weather conditions to pass around paper memorials to people we don’t really know. It could be better spent giving it directly to those good causes, don’t you think? Ok, those casual posties will miss the overtime, but…
Ok, by now you’re thinking I’m a miserable old bugger going large with the annual humbuggery. But I’m not. I’m thinking instead that if the festival is about stroking relationships it might be better if we actually worked on the relationships themselves rather than the excuse for their feebleness. How much nicer to get a phone call, if not an actual visit and or invitation to the pub, or for a coffee, rather than a card? A proper meeting or at least a conversation.
That’s how I’m thinking at the moment, anyway. There are folk – particularly of a certain generation – who would miss a card, and for them I will still be employing messengers bearing paper. For the rest of you, if I have your number I may call; a voice out of the blue, out of the distant past maybe. Or an emailed photo, just to say I’m still alive but don’t necessarily want to disarray your mantlepiece. Or, hey, you could call me.
Solstice doesn’t come but once a year.
Rainbow header, because sometimes rainbows are arm-banned.