I’ve been writing my Christmas cards this weekend. I’ve been using pretty much the same Christmas Card list that I’ve used for the last few years and it always strikes me that it contains a couple of anomalies.
Firstly, there are the people for whom our only communication is the annual Christmas card. Should I still bother sending them cards? Secondly, there are the people I know won’t send me a card. Should I still bother sending them cards?
The answer to both these questions is a resounding YES.
People on my Christmas card list were obviously once an important part of my life. Life moves on, and friends may wax and wane in their closeness, but isn’t it important to spend a few minutes each year letting them know that you still remember them?
For example, one couple I’ve known since I was in short trousers. They were family friends and their son and I were best friends at primary school. I’ve since fallen out of touch with the friend, but still swap Christmas cards with the parents. They are both frail and elderly now, but a Christmas card says more than “Merry Christmas”. It says “I still cherish the memories of those fun times we had when we were younger”.
In recent years, some people have told me that they will no longer send cards for cost reasons. This isn’t a view that I subscribe to. I think that a few minutes of my time and the cost of a stamp are expenses well worth it to let someone know that I still remember them. I write a short individual message on each card so the recipients know that, for a few minutes at least, I was thinking of them.
When I was a child, Dad would unearth the sheet of foolscap paper (anyone remember foolscap paper?) on which the Christmas card list from previous years was hand-written, and carefully rule two more columns for this years ‘sent’ and ‘received’ log. Anyone who hadn’t sent a card for two consecutive years was summarily removed. As the cards came in, the ‘received’ log was updated. We grew used to people’s individual greetings; even today if Dad mentions one of his old friends or a distant relation I can respond immediately with how they signed their Christmas cards.
Today, technology has moved my list from paper to spreadsheet. But I’ve stopped recording who I received cards from. It’s not important. I don’t send cards because I expect to receive one in return; I send cards because I want to wish my friends and family a Merry Christmas – free, gratis and for nothing.