On the subject of Christmas cards

It’s Christmas! (Please no, not in a Noddy Holder voice). Someone in your house has probably already risked their lives in the loft retrieving the decorations. You’ve probably done some mediocre Christmas shopping, comprising mainly of having a panic attack around the ground floor of John Lewis. You’ve watched Elf, or if not, you’re saving it for when wrapping gifts in front of the fire, surrounded by empty mince pie tin foil cups, roasted ham and brimming with anticipatory yuletide cheer. Is there anything more heartening than this scenario? No.

Sadly however, my personal merriment is increasingly marred each year by one thing. The seemingly harmless and well intended Christmas card. As each morning arrives and I hear the post land on my doormat with a (slightly noisier than usual, seasonal) clatter, my heart sinks. I haven’t sent my Christmas cards yet. I haven’t even got my Christmas cards. Even if I did have them, I haven’t got anyone’s address and it seems arbitrary to text people now asking for it. They’ll know what I’m up to. My Christmas card sending will be expected and thusly ruined. It troubles me deeply and makes even delicious, sweet sherry taste bitter in my mouth.

Some Christmas enthusiasts even take the trouble to write a personalised message in their cards. They’ve probably also done their Christmas shopping by November 30th and are kicking back watching Elf as we speak. Smug so and sos. Some go much further and send out a family newsletter. ‘Little Harriet passed her violin exams’, ‘Peter fell out of the loft getting the decorations down’, ‘We’re all off to Cornwall for our holidays to see Grandma’ etc. Much as I enjoy reading these, it only cements my feeling of Christmas shame. No newsletter will be winging its way from my family I’m afraid. I couldn’t get it organised.

Occasionally I’ll receive an E Card. Sending these is even more tragic than not sending cards at all. Or sometimes in to the inbox pops a musical E Card with my face transposed onto the dancing body of an elf. Strange and unnerving. Please don’t send me these.

If by some miracle, you do manage to buy a packet of cards and have an up to date address book, there’s always the quandary of what the picture ought to be on the front. Religious, robins or reindeer? Whatever you pick needs to cover all the bases. Do you buy an assorted box of 100 cards from Tesco? What if they all just have Santa Claus on them and you look foolish? It’s a risk.

Perhaps worst of all are the cards you receive from your neighbours. Everyone else, you don’t have to see for a while and hopefully when you do see them again, your shameful lack of formal season’s greetings will be forgotten. But your neighbours are always there. To All at Number 27, Merry Christmas from Bonnie, Ronnie and Donnie. A cheery reminder that you’ve failed to do your cards, but this time hand delivered while you’re trying to enjoy your dinner. Give me a break.

At least it’s an excellent way of finding out all their names. Last year I made a diagram of my street (which of course I have now lost) but for thirty special minutes in 2012, I knew the name of every neighbour on my street.

Oh well, perhaps if I get my cards now, they’ll be done for Christmas 2014. My loved ones won’t know what’s hit them! Merry Christmas everyone, Happy New Year and I’m very sorry but you probably won’t be receiving my card.

First published by Cambridge News


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