Why I still send Christ­mas cards… and you should too Fes­tive tra­di­tion

De­spite re­ceiv­ing fewer and fewer each year, Ju­lia llewellyn smith re­mains de­voted to the fes­tive rit­ual and is de­ter­mined to keep it alive

Woman & Home - - In This Issue... - w&h

For me, it’s the mo­ment I know that Christ­mas has truly be­gun: it’s been dark since just after lunch, the heat­ing’s on full blast, I pour a glass of wine – ideally with shakin’ stevens croon­ing greet­ings from the stereo – and sit down to write Christ­mas cards.

to me, cards are as es­sen­tial a part of the yule­tide tra­di­tion as the tur­key, tree, crack­ers and the Christ­mas Eve row with my hus­band about why on earth he has no present for his mother, deem­ing it some­how to be my duty.

I love my an­nual con­tact with the mix­ture of peo­ple who’ve adorned my life, even if I now rarely see them – school friends I may not see for years at a time but when we catch up, still man­age to make me gig­gle like a 14-year-old; mum friends from play­group days now so far off, I can no longer re­call their chil­dren’s names.

I adore push­ing the wodge of care­fully stamped en­velopes into the post­box and dec­o­rat­ing my shelves with the fes­tive im­ages I’ve re­ceived. and while every­one else mocks them, as a nosy parker, I en­joy noth­ing more than read­ing peo­ple’s boast­ful round robins about chil­dren who’ve achieved grade-eight level oboe while still man­ag­ing to find time to build an or­phan­age and gain 19 GCsEs.

A valu­able tra­di­tion

De­spite a re­cent Royal Mail sur­vey show­ing that 80% of peo­ple would pre­fer a phys­i­cal card over an e-card (yuck!), the num­ber I re­ceive is get­ting smaller and smaller each year. In­stead, if I’m lucky, I might re­ceive a group text full of an­noy­ing sea­sonal emo­jis. some­times I per­sist in send­ing cards to these bah hum­bugs, but with­out re­cip­ro­ca­tion, the rit­ual loses much of its joy. so of­ten they’re crossed off my Christ­mas card list.

In­deed, the fes­tive card seems set to go the way of the di­nosaur. the Greet­ing Card as­so­ci­a­tion re­ports that we send around 100 mil­lion fewer cards ev­ery year, thanks to soar­ing postage prices (a first-class stamp now costs 65p) and so­cial me­dia.

I get it – when you’re used to your What­sapp ping­ing non-stop, the idea of un­cap­ping a foun­tain pen seems lu­di­crously an­ti­quated. but it’s pre­cisely be­cause we have to in­vest more time, care and money in se­lect­ing, writ­ing and de­liv­er­ing cards that makes the rit­ual so valu­able.

Char­i­ties ben­e­fit too, rais­ing £50m a year from sales. and I know about you smug peo­ple who love to post on Face­book that you’re fore­go­ing cards in favour of a do­na­tion to a wor­thy cause, but I al­ways won­der whether it’s just be­cause you can’t be both­ered.

What sad­dens me is that while a lot of peo­ple en­joy buzzing so­cial lives on­line, there are many – the el­derly in par­tic­u­lar – who aren’t so au fait with on­line com­mu­ni­ca­tions and for whom a card is a des­per­ately needed as­sur­ance that they haven’t been for­got­ten. one newly sin­gle friend who, hav­ing just moved to a dif­fer­ent city where he knew no one, ended up dec­o­rat­ing his house with cards sent to the pre­vi­ous own­ers, just to as­suage his lone­li­ness.

so this Christ­mas, let’s put down our phones, dig out those dusty ad­dress books and send cards to our cousins, of­fice bud­dies and neigh­bours. the de­light they’ll feel when one plunks through their let­ter box in­stead of the usual pile of bills will more than make it worth the has­sle. I prom­ise.

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