The 1st of December is approaching, and I’ve learned over the years that my thoughts really need to turn to sending Christmas cards.
I had a habit for many years of leaving it far too late to write and send my Christmas cards, and I’m sure more than a couple have arrived after the big day itself as a result. This was mainly down to a nice little daydream I’d conjured for myself: a cosy room, decorated for Christmas, lights a-twinkle; me at the coffee table in front of the fire, a large glass of something red and tasty to hand, happily scribing away to friends and family. It’s a pretty picture, but quite unrealistic – mainly because achieving that level of decoration, organisation and time simply didn’t seem to align, and I would usually end up scribbling a few here and there in the week leading up to Last Posting Day, then stuffing them all in the box moments before the deadline.
Which brings me to my dilemma. Should I be doing it at all any more? There’s been a growing trend over the last few years to move away from the practice altogether, and I have to say I’m tempted. So in the manner of all committed fence-sitters, I thought I’d draw up a list of points for and against for sending Christmas cards in 2020.
Reasons to Give It Up
- It’s expensive – in the cards themselves and for the postage. My jaw nearly hit the floor when I saw the price of a book of First Class recently, and a charity donation – which many people make now in lieu of the amount they would spend on cards – seems a much worthier use of that cash, especially in 2020.
- It’s expensive in terms of my time, as well. I always think I’ll have it cracked in an evening, and if it was just writing in the cards I probably would – but it always, always takes me longer than I think it will. There’s the recipient list to make, the envelope stuffing, finding my address book, getting hold of addresses from people who have moved, applying all the stamps, and getting it all to the post box, on top of all the writing too. In those precious pre-Christmas evenings, there are many other things I could be doing with that time. It’s just one of those jobs that if you’re not careful can become more of a chore than a pleasure.
- Sending greetings can be done much more quickly, easily and inexpensively online. I’m in touch with most friends and family anyway in the virtual world. There are very few people I send a card to that I couldn’t just wish a Merry Christmas online, and it seems mad to be sending a card and then repeating those same festive sentiments on social media. Most of those people will also be seeing what we get up to as a family through the year too, and I actually gave up including a newsy letter in our cards a few years ago for that very reason.
So those are the arguments for the proposition. Let’s see what lies on the other side of the fence.
Reasons to Keep Going
- It’s lovely to receive a card. It really is. Nothing can replace getting a hand-written card through the post that the writer put time, care and effort into sending to you – and the hard truth of it is, if you don’t send them, you won’t get them. And I do love a doorful of Christmas cards. We display them by blu-tacking them up to the glass doors in the sitting room, and they are a really important part of the Christmas decs. I still determinedly send them to one or two people from whom I haven’t received a card in years, but by and large if you don’t get one, you don’t send one – so if I want to receive them, I need to put an equal effort into giving them.
- Writing a card is the next level of showing you care. Getting in touch by any means is wonderful, and if online is all you can manage then that’s brilliant in itself – but writing a card requires even more thought and effort than dashing off a few words on a keyboard. You’ve put aside a longer portion of your time to think about that person, handwrite some wishes for them, and even give them a little news they may not have access to on social media. That whole card is just a lovely little gift that has so much more tangible meaning, right there in your hands, than a digital message in pixels.
- Well just 2020, really. This year has reframed everything. Going through last year’s crop of cards when I got them out of the loft at the weekend, I saw that so many of them carried hopeful and excited messages for meeting up in 2020. That happens every year, of course, but seeing it in 2019 made me sad in a way that many other things haven’t. I don’t know how many of those meetings would have come off, but knowing that the power and opportunity to meet was taken entirely out of our hands brought back those feelings of grief I had back in the spring (click here for my Feeling the Grief post); but equally, looking back at those handwritten messages brought the individual people who had written them much closer to me than any online message could. So perhaps that special little card gift has even more meaning this year than ever.
Weighing it all up, you can probably tell which side of the argument I’m coming down on. So much about Christmas is led by the heart, and this year more than ever. Physically holding something that another person created just for you can mean so very much, especially when all those exciting hopes and plans never happened in 2020. So just imagining the little shot of joy I could be giving someone by sending a card makes all the effort worth it.
There are very good and sensible arguments for giving up the Christmas cards – but not this year. Not in 2020. Maybe one year further down the line I will change my mind…but for now, I will adjust my pretty card-writing daydream and settle down to do it this weekend. I may not have the twinkly lights and Christmas tree yet, but there’s no need to compromise on the fire and wine….