It took me a long time to get down to the annual task of compiling a Christmas card list, and then actually writing the things, but I've done it. The job's done. It's finished.
There may be the odd card now from somebody not on my list, but I think I've covered everyone who would expect to receive a card from me. That's 44 cards I've posted, or handed over in person. Not a bad total for someone who has emerged from a life that some would have written off back in 2008.
None of the cards I've sent are for close family. I have no parents, no brothers or sisters, nor children of my own. They're all dead or never were. I'm a sole survivor; and consequently my less immediate family - niece, nephew, their mother, some distant cousins - have a great importance to me. So do friends. And so do neighbours, and those persons in my life who give me personal service: my cleaner, my hair stylist, the lady who does my electrolysis. They were all on my list. They have all got nice cards.
But not necessarily traditional cards. Five persons were sent ecards.
I had vaguely heard of these before, but then one of my new North Devon friends, Sara, sent me one and I was charmed to death by how nice it was. She had paid her subscription to Jacquie Lawson.com, and this entitled her to send an unlimited number of cards (not just Christmas cards) to anyone with an email address. You can view the selection she chose from at http://www.jacquielawson.com/cards/christmas. She sent me 'Northern Lights', which I think is beautiful. It came with a very Christmassy musical accompaniment: O Tannenbaum. (That's 'We'll keep the Red Flag Flying' to some)
You can add a message of any reasonable length. She did.
Thus encouraged, it was entirely natural that I should join this website too (spending £11 on a two-year membership), and send her an ecard, also with a message. Somehow it was much easier to think of merry and/or witty things to say - probably because you could preview the card before sending, and go back to rearrange or modify what you had already written. You didn't have to get it right first time - the card wasn't ruined if you made a spelling mistake or whatever - and so the words came freely.
I sent an ecard to another North Devon friend, Jayne. And to friends in Wales and Scotland, and to my step-daughter in New Zealand. 'A Winter Waltz' seemed just right for most of them, but one friend got 'Northern Lights', as I thought it more appropriate.
I do see that ecards are best suited to people who will be away over Christmas, or who live in other parts of the world. And they must of course be computer users who know all about emails, and what to do when a link to click on is presented to them.
So I wouldn't dream of sending an ecard to, say, my elderly aunt in Newport. And I also do understand that many people appreciate having a collection of 'paper' cards to adorn their mantlepiece with. I do, for one. They are a sort of Christmas decoration!
On the other hand, an ecard can be viewed on one's phone at any time, and in that sense carried around. And if they ever become the norm, think of how much forest will be saved - although I think the day that ecards supersede traditional cards is as far off as the day that ebooks supersede traditional books.
Meanwhile they get the seal of approval from me!