Monday, December 13, 2010

Why I don't send Christmas cards

To say I hate Christmas cards would perhaps be a little strong. I certainly feel no offence at being given one, but I just don't see much of a point. Here are a few of the reasons why I don't particularly like Christmas cards in no more than a stream-of consciousness order:

 - I'll get the environmental issues out of the way first: They spend a few weeks sat on your mantelpiece, they are looked at once when you first open them, maybe again if they have a joke of some sort contained within, and then you throw them away. I haven't looked up the figures, but the number of cards I see flying in front of my face through the Christmas season is phenomenal, and for something that essentially has the sole purpose of being thrown away it must contribute to a significant fraction of unnecessary festive waste.

 - The financial ones next: Christmas cards are expensive. For the price of what I assume to be a 'decent' Christmas card, you could just as easily buy me a pint of beer or a bar of chocolate, both of which you would give me preferentially if you knew me well enough to warrant buying a card anyway.

 - There's phenomenal scope for causing offence when Christmas card season strikes. Missing the wrong person out can open up a whole can of nasty, stinking worms that fester for years to come, which has led to the writing and distributing of cards turning into something of a military operation that starts being planned some time during August and involves the bulk-buying of obscene numbers of folded bits of stiff paper and firing them off at everyone you have ever met or are ever likely to meet just so that you can avoid upsetting anyone.

 - It's just so false an enterprise. For many people, the annual Christmas card is all that lets them know that you're still on the planet. Some use this as an argument for sending cards. I don't: If they're not important enough to at least poke on Facebook during the rest of the year, then why bother them at Christmas?

 - Having said all that, home-made cards are fine: they take so much time and effort individually that you're telling me I'm worth it. Giving me one out of a box of 500 is telling me I'm not worth it, so why bother in the first place?

To anybody who is considering sending me a card:
Ask yourself whether you're sending it to me because you really, truly want me to know that you're thinking of me in some way at this time, or if you're just doing so out of some feeling of duty or habit.

If the answer's something along the lines of "yes, actually, I like you and want to share feelings of Christmassy goodness with you," then please consider one of the alternatives:

  • Say it to me in person, preferably over a pint or two. If, to you, I'm worth thinking of, then we should catch up, even if we last saw each other only yesterday.
  • If that's not possible or particularly difficult to achieve, send me a personal message via facebook, email, text, telephone or one of the other billion-and-one lines of communication that are open for use. It's free, and it's the thought that goes into it and the words you use that count- don't waste your money on pointless and repetitive mass-communication*.
If you really must spend a small amount of money on me, then the following would be better, depending on the portion of your Christmas card budget that is to be pointed in my direction:
  • Buy me a pint (there are always plenty of festively themed real ales around at this time of year!)
  • Buy me a bar of chocolate.
  • Drop the cash into a charity box (as long as it's not a religiously motivated charity because the chances are it'll be wasted).
If you're thinking of sending me a card out of habit, duty, or other such values, then:
  • Don't bother.

What do you think?
Feel free to agree or disagree with me as vehemently as you like by commenting below or mentioning me on twitter (I'm @TeaKayB!)

* I don't like e-cards either, if that's what you're thinking. If the words that I'm receiving aren't yours then it's a hollow gesture.