I’m as enthusiastic as the next festive merry-maker when it comes to all things joyful and triumphant. I love Christmas. I love commencing the festivities in November; love giving-in to the irresistible £5 boxes of Roses/Quality Street/Heroes/Sainsbury’s pass-offs; love choosing a tree (although I hate putting it up); love making tasteless cookies with the younglings; and I love watching Channel 5’s abundance of Christmassy straight-to-video films on a Sunday afternoon. Yes, make no mistake, I am the jolly season’s number one fan. But, Christmas cards. Christmas. Cards. I HATE Christmas cards.
This cause of this loathing can be placed at the too-big feet of my husband. For, almost 15 years ago, he asked me when I would be making a start on the Christmas cards. He’d watched me write cards for MY family and was now wondering when I would start writing the cards for HIS family:
“I think you should write your own Christmas cards, for YOUR family.”
“But, you should do it. It’s the woman’s job!”
“What the? Fuck you, it’s the woman’s job. Write your own fucking cards!”
And ever since, the Christmas card makes me prickly. Although, ironically, and highly irritating to my 20-something self, I do now sit down and write cards for both our families, as, after all, we are now married, so we’re one big (weirdo) family.
Sexist issues aside, I also loathe the wanky, insincere form of festive good-will because the proliferation of shit cards pouring through the letter-box clutters up my house. Actually, that’s a lie. The majority of the unwelcome and uninvited cards set up home in my recycling bin. They’re much happier in there, all 70 of them snuggled up together.
The kids have been bringing home tens of the postage-stamp cards (the ones we all buy from Asda with the fluffy penguin. The 99p for 1000 ones) EVERY day since 1st December. If I’m quick, I can scoop them out of their book-bags and release them into the recycling to be with their own kind.
But these cheapy cards require a return card, and that means writing down ALL the names of my kids’ buddies, for them to easily copy. Invariably they can’t read my loopy writing, and so, things play out like this:
“Muuuuuuuuum. How do you spell Thomas?”
“Tuh, huh, oh, emm, ah, ess.”
“Tuh, uh, oh, eh?”
“No. Tuh, huh, oh, emm, aaaah, essss.”
“Tuh, ah, em, eees?”
“NOOOOOO! TUH. HUH. OH. EMM. AH. ESS. For Christ’s sake!”
And then they cry. And so, inevitably, I write the cards to Thomas, James, Lillie and crew and the kids just make their mark.
I also despise the corporate card. The card which has been sent to you as the most unimaginative, insincere expression of ‘good tidings to you’. Yep, ‘cos nothing says ‘have a good one’ like a festive card from the company who unblocked your drains from a week’s worth of shite. If we’re not on speaking terms, spare your marketing dollar and take me off your vacuous mailing list.
Each year I spend approximately £20-30 on Christmas cards and their costly, time-consuming posting. That’s a pound for the kids’ classmates, £5 for the husband’s relatives, £10 for mine, at least £15 on the up-market and thoroughly pretentious John Lewis cards (reserved for the neighbours and school mums), plus the pesky postage (2nd class, but still).
I’d like to email everyone on my list to say I will be donating the (wasted) money to charity, Shelter, perhaps. But they won’t buy this. I’ll be accused of making a political/environmental/religious statement, at best. At worst, I’ll be labelled tight/selfish/Grinch-like.
Seasonal jollities parked, there is a serious point to this post. What is the environmental hit of the Christmas card and its envelope? I have no idea, but I’m guessing Mother Earth would rather we didn’t cut down her trees to help us spread our Christmas cheer. She’d rather we pick up the phone and call everyone on our list to wish them a genuine, heartfelt Haaaaaappy Christmas! Hmm, don’t fancy that much. Think I’ll send everyone a highly impersonal e-card. Tis the season of goodwill an’all.