As a greetings card publisher – that is someone who designs and makes greetings cards – Christmas is a pretty busy time of year. Traditionally, it’s the time when most people buy and send cards and, before the advent of online technology, people did just that. In the last few years, this long established tradition has, like so many physical things – shops, books, magazines and physical music – started to dwindle and die. And the world is always a lesser place because of it.
Over the past three or four years, I’ve noticed more e-cards, more physical cards with nasty printed messages that people have typed on a computer before sending their card via Moonpig out of Guernsey and more apologetic standard emails from friends explaining that they’re not sending cards at all and, hey, Happy Christmas! Receiving any of these things, as a person who has dedicated much time and effort making unique cards (and I confess I have a vested interest), is terribly depressing.
E-cards are probably the worst; cheerless animations with twinkly jingles that go on for ages but serve only to block up your inbox with all the other unsolicited crap that you have to delete on a daily basis because unsubscribing is a gloomy and monotonous task. The other two just miss the point of going out and choosing a card, writing a message in it and sending it to someone you care about. Receiving a card is one of life’s very small pleasures, and the selfless nature of sending is manifested in the fact that the sender doesn’t even get to see that joy.
There are lots of reasons for not writing Christmas cards, not least the time and the effort involved and, having written mine this year, I appreciate the argument. In addition, it’s becoming expensive with the rising cost of cards and postage. Further, the advent of technology does allow mass communication much more easily, though technology also makes us a lazy bunch.
But I see it like this. I don’t tend to give cards to people I see every day – work colleagues, my wife, people I’ll see during the festive period – because that seems a bit silly. But I have family and friends dotted all over the country and in other parts of the world that I never see from year to year because of those constraints of time, distance and resources and because with our other commitments the days seem to go by so quickly. If, however, I cherish those relationships, friendships and links and I haven’t nurtured them all year, the least – the very least – I can do is find a card they’d like, write a few well chosen and individual words inside and send it to them to let them know that I’m thinking of them. I don’t think spending around £1 per card – probably less – is particularly excessive to do that.
The feedback I get when I’m selling cards at markets and events is that, on the whole, customers buy them for other people. They tend to take time to think what a person would like, and might be drawn to my cards because they think the recipient might like it. They often take care and consideration to get it right. Cards are happy things – we like to give them and we like to receive them. They are simple, well understood and appreciated. They are a hug in an envelope. I think we should make the effort to send them.