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Why do people still endure the hypocrisy of sending Christmas cards? I’m glad I don’t have to bother

PUBLISHED: 08:00 22 December 2018

A heartfelt decloration of festive joy or a pointless box-ticking exercise - where do you stand on giving Christmas cards?

A heartfelt decloration of festive joy or a pointless box-ticking exercise - where do you stand on giving Christmas cards?

Archant

Are Christmas cards still relevant in 2018? Steven Downes said he feels liberated by not having to bother anymore

At the time of writing, I have received the pitiful total of five Christmas cards.

I can only assume that the ones from my army of loyal and adoring readers have gone astray.

Actually, I have to hope the same is true of cards from my friends and most of my family.

If not, I wonder whether I’m just not very popular: my genius is undervalued.

The truth, though, is that many people have given up on sending Christmas cards - and I think that it’s excellent news.

There are some people who feel very disconcerted about the decline of Christmas cards, and probably consider it to be yet another example of society’s decline (along with children 
not climbing trees and PC going mad).

I prefer to see it as a sign that we are all becoming less hypocritical.

Just a few years ago, I would send upward of 50 cards - and receive a similar number.

This year, I sent seven - all to my close family members.

The ritual of mass card writing was tedious and meaningless, which is not in keeping with the joy we should get from giving to others.

There was something clinical about producing a list of recipients, getting out a mixture of last year’s leftovers and this year’s packs of charity cards, opening the address book and summoning the energy to bother.

Most would get the deeply personal: “To (insert name here), Love from Steve x”

The truly blessed would have the added bonus: “We must catch up in the New Year.” Fat chance.

My life is no less rich for the absence of dozens of cards from people who were just ticking me off a list, then forgetting about me for 12 months. I’m sure they feel the same.

You might be that special person who makes your own cards, then carefully crafts a personal message in each one. I admire you, as clearly there is meaning behind them.

But most of us are just helping Clinton to survive for another year, while damaging the environment and spreading the cursed glitter in others’ homes.

Among my favourites in former years has been those where the sender hasn’t even written my name, just hurriedly scrawled their first name inside, without so much as a to or a from. The meaning of Christmas, right there.

Those of you who mourn the demise of the tradition of card-giving should bear in mind that it only began in 1843, and only became an industry in recent decades.

The Wise Men didn’t write a card to Mary, Joseph and Jesus the year after they worshipped and adored. No, almost two millennia passed before it was decided that getting wrist cramp and running out of stamps were among the festive fundamentals.

Thankfully, the younger generations aren’t as hidebound as we were by what others might think if we do this or don’t do that.

And so the hypocrisy of card-bombing has been replaced with doing special things for the people that actually matter - on the basis of a real relationship, not a place in the address book.

Some of that happens on social media, that domain of the devil, which is making our children into stooping mutes with massive thumbs.

On the likes of Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram, regular contact is easier and - far from killing the art of conversation - communication is certainly at a higher level than the annual “To Doris, Happy Christmas, From Steven x”

As an example (on a tangent from Yuletide), on Thursday I turned 45 and, among the lovely presents and cards I received, there was something that truly moved me.

One of my children posted a happy birthday message on Facebook, accompanied by a few photos of the two of us together down the years.

The same son - in fact all of my sons - didn’t send any Christmas cards this year.

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