Tuesday, 10 December 2013

In Praise of Christmas Cards

I was feeling poorly over the weekend. Nothing serious but enough to sap my energy so I didn't do any Christmas shopping, didn't clean the house, didn't put up the Christmas tree. But I did manage one ritual which means a lot to me - I wrote my Christmas cards.

These days, the only time I take pen to paper, apart from work of course, is when I write cards. Sometimes, however, it's easier to send an email or text message, or  follow the Facebook prompt to wish someone 'Happy Birthday'.
Even writing cards is no guarantee that they will be posted. Often I find a grubby, creased, and very out of date card lurking in the depths of my handbag, the occasion for its sentiments long past.
This, of course, is a sad state of affairs. There is no romance, no sentiment, to sending emails or text messages. It's too automatic, too businesslike. And most likely the greeting will end up deleted.
I've seen it suggested that it's not 'green' to send real Christmas cards but I think sending cards is a small price to may for something which can form part of our family history for future generations to appreciate.
There's nothing to cherish with a virtual message. No picture to linger over, no rich paper to touch, no greeting to memorise, no handwriting to admire.
And what history of the little celebrations in our lives will we have if we don't send cards?

I can trace my grandparents's romance through the beautiful postcards they sent on a daily basis. There are the postcards my mother sent home from her first holiday overseas. There are the cards congratulating her on her wedding, on my birth. She kept every birthday card I received, just as I have kept those sent when my son was born and for his birthdays. There are Valentine cards, anniversary cards and good luck cards which recall the milestone events of our lives.
Some may think Christmas cards terribly outdated in this day and age of instant messaging but I like the tradition of sitting down, thinking of a friend, selecting a card, and writing a message. Maybe it's just a short greeting, wishing them a Happy Christmas and all the best in the new year, but it's a sign that you have thought enough of them to make that effort. Even better if there's a short letter and a few family snapshots included.

Every year, I keep one or two cards which I  particularly like. Maybe I fear the sender won't be around in future, which sadly happened this year, or maybe I just liked the picture. Either way I am building a collection of memories for years to come.


  1. I love this post. I believe in Christmas cards. I don't write as many as I use to, but I love sending them to others and getting them in the mail.
    Let's hope that the tradition doesn't completely die out. It's a beautiful, personal practice that should be kept alive.
    Thanks for saying something about it. Hope you feel better.

  2. Yes, these traditions are slowly dying...our postal system just announced the cut of 6'000 jobs over five years. Maybe if there were more people like you the mail would continue!
    Love that you have kept so many cards and have them from your kin to cherish. I found a whole stack of gift tags from the 40s that belonged to my great aunt. I photocopied them on card stock, cut each one out and put them in a prettry paper covered matchbox for a gift...they in themselves are a decoration. Maybe we should start a bloggers card exchange? I think I know a few who would be interested. It would be grand to see an Irish stamp in the mail to me!

    1. Yes, that's a good idea - would be nice to get a card in the post rather than bills or junk mail.

  3. I love this post Mairead, and I love Christmas cards too, but sadly, like many people, I dont send as many as I used to. I also keep special ones each year - the ones that I find really beautiful. All the kept ones from past years have been fastened to ribbons which come out every year and are hung from the picture rails as Christmas decorations, and then I have the joy of seeing them all over again. I have also kept one of every Christmas card I've ever sent - as I only ever buy ones I think are really beautiful! - so these are added into my collection! It is sad to think that one day people might look back on the 'Christmas Card Era, 1843-2020'! It just isn't the same, receiving an email or a text. I have found it strange in Ireland that many people dont seem to send Christmas cards to folk they might see over the festive period - but everywhere is different. I love that you have all the cards from when your grandparents were 'courting' - how wonderful. My mother received a letter or card in every post when my father was courting her - and in post-war London there were 3 postal deliveries a day!!! I hope you are feeling better now, but it was nice that you could spend an off day doing something lovely.

  4. I don't send many now either. I also keep my favourite ones each year. I hope you are feeling better Mairead.

  5. It's lovely to see you back in the blogging groove. I do the same thing with cards, love the idea of sending them but there are always one or two slipping through the cracks. And o yes keeping one or two or a whole lot more!! You seem to have some beauties:~))

  6. try this website for digital greetings - it is easy to upload pics and send them out as E-cards:
    Karen x


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