Oh, Christmas! The big day is right around the corner, and if you are anything like me you have failed to get a Christmas tree, do any present shopping, or buy your turkey – yet have managed to attend at least three slightly boozy Christmas lunches, watch Elf twice and eat about 17 million mince pies.
However, it’s best not to panic. It is the season to be merry after all, not the season to run around like a headless chicken (or turkey) panic purchasing terrible, generic or just insanely expensive Christmas gifts to make up for your lack of organisation.
If you are feeling a bit guilty about not getting the most thoughtful of gifts for your loved ones this Christmas, one way you can still redeem yourself is by writing excellent Christmas cards.
I know this may be an unpopular idea.
It seems that sending and receiving Christmas cards isn’t as prevalent as it once was. Many people nowadays prefer to smugly announce on Facebook that they won’t be sending Christmas cards this year because they want to save the planet or donate the funds they would have spent buying and posting cards to charity instead (aka – they can’t be bothered).
Now I’m not belittling giving money to a good cause, but out of all the consumerist wizardry that manages to turn us into glazed-eyed, pot-bellied, Christmas jumper wearing zombies who happily hand over wads of cash for giant shining piles of rubbish that we don’t need, the humble and recyclable Christmas card is one of the least offensive customs.
But I get it, I do. Sending Christmas cards does seem like rather an expensive waste of time. But perhaps that’s because we don’t put any effort into writing them.
The sending of Christmas cards is a tradition that dates all the way back to 1843 when old Sir Henry Cole (I’m just assuming he was old, he’s definitely old now) came up with the idea to promote the use of the Post-Office to more ordinary folk. So together with his artist friend John Horsley, he designed the very first Christmas card and sold it for the highly reasonable sum of 1 shilling.
Before this time only rich people were able to use the Post Office (known then as the Public Record Office). However, with the development of the new railways meaning post could be sent in bulk, and further, the Post Office was able to offer a 1 penny stamp, and suddenly sending cards and letters to one’s far-flung family and friends became imminently more affordable.
Anyway, I digress. The point is that sending Christmas cards to your nearest and dearest is worth it if you view it as an opportunity, at the end of the year, to tell them how much they mean to you.
I know, I know -it’s easy to say, but when you’ve got 50 cards to send out to everyone from the boss you don’t really like to your great aunt Sally, or is it Susan?*[texts mum who responds with an admonishing ‘you ask me this question every year'] to do anything more than just hastily scribble ‘Merry Christmas!’ is asking too much. Then when you hit card number 23, and your wrists are beginning to burn it becomes just ‘Love, [name]’ then by number 38 – a scribbled hasty signature as if you are at an embarrassing book signing where only ghosts showed up.
However, taking the time, at least for the people you love, to actually write something meaningful, something personal, something that will make them laugh, maybe cry poignantly, and feel all warm and fuzzy inside, is undoubtedly worth more than unwrapping yet another set of ‘posh’ scented candles or some ‘hilarious’ novelty socks, and isn’t that is what Christmas is all about?
Christmas Cards – A Writers Time to Shine!
Writers particularly have no excuse for a poorly written Christmas card. In fact, they should use Christmas card writing to show off their talents. If you consider writing Christmas cards as a writing exercise, you suddenly have greater motivation to go deep, use your imagination and really think about what you are saying in them.
You don’t have to get all gooey if you don’t want to, but you do have to get creative. Write the shortest of short stories, include a fabulously wintery poem, jot down a haiku, tell a joke -is it a Christmas cracker? Is it a Christmas card? – Who knows?!
Oh, the fun you could have.
The thing that makes Christmas cards pointless and wasteful is by not bothering to write anything meaningful in them. I don’t know about you, but I could do without pieces of card adorned with the signatures of my family and friends littered about my home, even if some of them do have pictures of puppies wearing Santa hats on them. However, receiving cards from those I love, or those I work with, or even my distant relatives (hi great aunt Sally/Susan!) full of words of love or laughter or something silly or witty or fun to read – well then I’d happily receive Christmas cards every day of the year.
Top Tips For Writing Christmas Cards
Ready to write your Christmas cards? Here are some things to think about:
Write more than a swift one-liner – make it worth the effort of loosening their grip on the tv remote/mince pie to open the envelope.
Make it personal – no generic sweeping statements, say what you really mean!
Tell a story – everybody loves a good yarn at Christmas time.
Make them laugh – laughter is the best medicine (except when in a turkey-induced food coma, then you just need to lie really, really still and let the meat sweats wash over you – they will pass, eventually).
Share a memory – take a gander down memory lane.
Tell them why you think they are great – give them the gift of a fabulous compliment!
Make a promise to them for the new year – I’ll definitely call you every week next year mum.
Never Write A Boring Christmas Card Again!
The end of the year is nearly upon us, and whatever has unfolded in 2018 there is still a few days left where you could make an effort to bring a smile to someone’s face. So, writers, why not put those creative talents to good use, pick up a pen and crack the art of writing the perfect Christmas cards this year? I can’t think of a better way to spread a little festive cheer.