Monday, 28 November 2011

Facebook killed the Christmas Card

It now appears to be socially acceptable etiquette to do a Facebook status update on Christmas day saying “Happy Christmas to everyone I know”, hoping that people might see it (on the off chance they are surfing Facebook and it pops up on their news feed), rather than send actual Christmas cards. This new way of doing things is attractive to me because it is potentially another thing I can strike off my bulging Christmas to-do list (or not put it on there in the first place). But I just can’t shake the feeling that I am not doing things properly. I am a proper grown up with a proper Christmas card list and everything, but every year around this time I am faced with the same dilemma, to send cards or not?

Christmas cards are a great way to reconnect with people you haven’t seen for a long time. Let them know that you still care in a personal way. Just like emails, which can be written in half the time without the need to buy stamps or go out in the cold to find a post box before the last posting dates for Christmas.

Houses bereft of cards at Christmas time is a pretty depressing state of affairs to find ourselves in, as I do, almost every year. I have never needed more than one short ribbon to display my own Christmas cards, how sad. Although since Son number 1 has been at preschool (and now big school) he seems to get one from everyone in the school (probably written by their mums, as I do his, which is not really in the spirit of things but better than nothing) which have to be displayed and this bumps up our numbers somewhat. My mum gets millions, strung up in every room as a free Christmas decoration and announcement to any visitor of how popular she is. Although technically she is cheating because a lot of her card buddies were inherited from her parents who came from a time when a card at Christmas was the only contact distant friends would have year on year.

I can’t bare the thought of another tradition dying out. Our kids already don’t understand cassettes, phones you had to stay in one place to use and only having 4 telly channels, what will become of them if we let Christmas cards die out? They can “talk” to their friends over Facebook, they don’t even need to be in the same room as each other to play games together, so won’t see the need for Christmas cards at all. But I really want them to experience the joys of Christmas cards. Getting an email is not the same as getting real post, where’s the excitement in a tiny “pop” sound compared to a nice thud of post on the mat?

I love to write Christmas cards in theory. I feel all festive sitting down with my address book and list, Christmas songs in the background, and writing a personal message in each one… “Congratulations on your exam results!”, “New house, how exciting!” “How is Uncle Bob’s hernia these days?”, for the first ten. After that they slowly get less and less elaborate until the last few unfortunate people on the list get “[names] Happy Christmas (which is already printed in the card) love [names]” I mean really, what is the point?

Stamps are expensive, cards are expensive, it’s all added cost at a time of year when we are already over spending and trying not to think about the fact that we will still need to eat in January. And don't think handmaking your cards will save you any money either, the craft shops saw us coming.

The environmentalists out there have the best excuse. Don’t send cards because they all end up in landfill anyway. You could argue that there are specialist recycling places which will recycle them for you. But we all know that despite the good intentions of most of us, Christmas cards get taken down and shoved in a pile on twelfth night, where they stay until March when they unceremoniously and guiltily get chucked in the bin when no one is looking. If you’re thrifty and organised (I would like to think I am both, but my bank balance and the fact that I still haven’t bought any Christmas presents tells me otherwise) you can cut up the cards to make tags for presents the following year. But then you are left with tags that don't match and its even more hassle and you still have to chuck half of it away.

I still don’t know what to do. I think there should be a national referendum about this, then at least everyone would be doing the same thing.

But just in case I don’t get around to sending Christmas cards this year, I want you all to know how special you are to me, each and every one of you. See? Who says the internet can’t be personal?


  1. Now I am feeling a little virtuous on this subject for once as the vertically challenged one and I have just completed the mamouth task of hand making over the period of two weeks - 50 Christmas cards complete with photo sticker of her inside. (she finger painted trees then dipped them the tips in white snow glitter we then made 50 red handprints to stick inside each one as she is too young to write her name. I really hope they make the reciepients smile as we laughed a lot making them .. when hoovering up the glitter for the 10th time .. not so much laughing mind :-D (emily) I have never mastered being anything other than anon on your blog replies xx

  2. Now you're putting the rest of us to shame! You should be feeling virtuous that is pretty amazing! People love to get handmade cards they really do show you care. Glitter is a bit of a nightmare, our house has been disco-ed for weeks since son 1 decided to make a Christmas picture (in the middle of November!), not fun cleaning up from that. Thanks for your comment :-) xx