Tuesday 2 December 2008

The joy of Christmas cards

It's December. I probably should have noticed this yesterday given it was my husband's birthday and the first day of the month, but I was so busy running to the loo in between trying to get my invoicing done that the significance eluded me. It's December. Already. How did that happen? Is it just me or are the years really speeding up? Has someone hit the fast forward switch?

I remember being a child and it taking A...G....E....S for Christmas to come around. The month of December felt like an eternity. So how is it that December now goes by so fast that I have to start planning for Christmas in January if I don't want to run out of time?

For the last few years I've thought: 'Wow, this year went fast'. But I don't ever recall a year having galloped by quite so determinedly as 2008. This year holds down my record for the World's Fastest Year Ever. I'm hoping it's a record that holds for some time as I can't face another year going by even faster. It makes me feel like I've just done several loops on a roller coaster. I'd like to sit down and steady myself for a while.

But there is no idling to be done as it, as I said, is December. Despite having completed most of my Christmas shopping I've not yet made a start on my Christmas cards. In fact, I'm toying with the idea of not doing them this year. I've bought them, donating my pounds to the British Heart Foundation charity shop, not because it's a cause close to my er, heart, but because they happened to have some cards and were en route to the car park. No I'm thinking of not doing them because here's what happens:

a) I send cards to people I see regularly. There's no need to send a long detailed letter and pictures catching up because they know what happens in my life. So the card becomes a short, sweet, not very eco friendly way of saying hi.

b) I send cards to people I haven't seen in ages normally because they live abroad but would like to stay in touch with. This ordinarily involves sending a long informative catch up letter inside the card. But thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I'm now friends with most of these people on Facebook who can therefore also access my blog and so who (if they were interested in the first place) would know exactly what was going on with our life anyway.

c) I send cards to people I feel obligated to send cards to but am not sure how we got onto the hamster wheel of sending cards to each other. Like our elderly neighbours (although the twit who wants my hedge cut down is definitely not getting one this year) and parents of our friends. These people are annoying to send to as I have to temper the rudeness of my cards and need to concentrate on writing neatly and remembering how to address them properly on the envelope. For what? Yes, yes, it's the niceties and all that yadayadayada and in the past I would have been first in the niceties conga line, but this year I feel decidedly nyeh about it. (nyeh being said with a gallic shoulder shrug picked up in Paris)

d) I send cards to people who we used to be friends with and had very good intentions of staying friends with and every year send Christmas cards to saying how we really ought to get together this year (and truly meaning it) but we NEVER EVER DO. I mean let's take the hint people. It's not going to happen is it? So what do I write in those cards: Merry Christmas. I hope 2009 is fab for you. We won't be seeing you and you won't be seeing us. Probably ever. But you know, let's stay in touch via a card once a year. Because. I'm not sure why. But let's. It helps keep postmen in shoes.

e) I send cards to people who fall into any of the above categories but who NEVER send me a card. Until now I've just thought that they were plain rude. I'd tutt and tsk about them and think evil thoughts and vow not to send a card again the next year. But then do anyway. And now I've realised that they've probably had this exact same card discussion with themselves - only they had it years ago and have long since given up on the whole thing.

So that's why I'm thinking about not sending cards this year. I know I will end up doing it. But I think I might be slightly more ruthless in my card sending and might well send some saying: Merry Christmas. This is the last Christmas card you will ever get from me unless we a) meet up b) I get one back from you c) you move abroad but are willing to invite me come and stay with you.

While I'm on this Christmas card rant (I always feel its important to keep ranting once you're on a roll because otherwise it can cause tremendous damage to your heart) I really get annoyed when I get a Christmas card that reads as follows:

Dear xxx

Merry Christmas (this is the printed bit in the card so not their writing)

Love from

I mean Come On. I know we've all lost the use of our hands due to excessive computer usage and therefore holding a pen is hard work, the cramp in your fingers reminiscent of those days when you had to write history exam essays. But honestly, send me a card like that and I'd like to return it saying: Don't bother.

Tips on how to write Christmas cards:
If it's a friend who you see regularly, then comment on something related to their life or how you're looking forward to seeing them soon. If it's someone you haven't seen for a while (or years as I've just pointed out) write some news or at least a message that takes slightly more effort than To X and Love from X. You see, the whole joy in Christmas cards is the pleasure at getting a non-bill related bit of post. It's the excitement of ripping open the envelope to see who's sending you some lovely Christmassy thoughts. But the To/From card variety is about as exciting as getting a bank statement. Only it's worse because a bank statement doesn't fill you with expectation first.

And one more Christmas card related rant. The sending of cards between pupils at pre-school and school. Do me a friggin favour. Unless they can write their own cards and read what the cards say, what the heck is the point??? So my sons each receive 15 or 20 cards in their in trays from their fellow pupils. Does that mean that they write the 15 to 20 replies? Does it hell. It means that I get to ensure permanent finger disability thanks to writing out a bunch more cards that literally say: To Jack, love from Josh. Why???? Surely the sole purpose of this activity is to kill more trees. The children aren't learning anything from it. The parents are simply trying to one up each other or feel duty bound to return the card. It's the first card initiator who should be shot at dawn.

If the children want to write their own cards, by all means, I'll hand them a stack. But until then, I am vetoing the writing of inane cards to pre-schoolers. If I am snubbed at the school gate, so be it.

Phew. I feel soooooooooooo much better for getting all that off my chest. Must go write some cards now.


Anonymous said...

ooooooookaaay. Was putting off my card writing but will have to start it right now, as you have made me very, very nervous as to your response to this year's card from me.......

katyboo1 said...

Hooray for you.
Don't send them. Let anarchy reign. Send them all e-mails to say you've donated their card money to some worthy cause so that they can't feel bad that you didn't send them. Then either sell on your already bought cards and give that money to charity or use it to buy sweets!