Are Christmas cards redundant? When we have so many other ways of wishing each other “Happy Christmas” do we really need to send brightly painted pieces of cardboard to family, friends and neighbours?
I would say most definitely “Yes”.
Christmas cards aren’t just about the season, they are a way of rec-connecting with people you don’t often see. On my list are work colleagues from years ago, friends I made when living in Jamaica who now live great distances away, but with whom I still have a connection. There are also older family friends and for them more than anyone the Christmas card is an important reminder that, whatever their circumstances, they are still part of a wider community and there are people out there who care about them.
The annual buying, signing and sending also has an important function. Like many people, I always buy charity Christmas cards so that the money I’m spending goes to a good cause. Some of my cards I deliver by hand, it would be crazy to post a card to my friend next door, but the majority are posted. When I go to the Post Office I might wince at the horrendous cost of the Christmas stamps, but it all helps to keep a valuable service going.
As for the writing of cards, I have a list that I tick off. A list that changes over the years as I lose family members and friends, each name brings with it a moment of sadness and recollection which feels so apt at this dark time of the year. On the other hand there are new additions, a nephew has got married, new friends has been made, a baby has been born.
When Christmas is over, the cards take on another life. Some are cut down and used for tags for next year’s presents, others donated to the supermarkets for recycling, while those that depict angels are saved to be displayed on the shelf above the crib as part of the angel chorus.