Saturday, 30 December 2017

Did it matter?

By which I mean, did it matter that I sent no Christmas cards this year?

Well, so far, nobody has taken me to task about it. Nobody has said things like 'Huh! So I wasn't worth dashing a card off for? Some friend you are.' One friend said in a text - but only in passing - that she was disappointed she wouldn't be getting a card from me. Another gave me the mild rebuke mentioned at the end of this post. But, really, that was the only negative feedback I got.

Almost everybody who became aware of my new 'no-cards-any-more' intention thought it was fair enough. They got it. Some said they'd still like to send me cards in the future, even though I wouldn't be doing the same for them, presumably because it was, for them, an essential part of the Christmas Tradition. Like making Christmas pies and puddings, cooking the Christmas Dinner, and having all the family around. I assured them, and meant it, that if they sent a card it would be welcome. I'm not going to impose my own ways on anybody else.

Although I didn't send cards - not a single one - I did send emails and a couple of letters. I didn't begin to do that until quite close to Christmas Day, so not everybody who was on my list was emailed or written to. Whether they noticed my silence is a moot point. I rather think that if they had a busy Christmas they did not. Perhaps in a moment to come, when binning the cards they received, they might say 'Hmm! We never did get a card from Lucy. I wonder if she's all right.' And if I do matter to them sufficiently, they might try getting in touch, and we can then have an exchange. Otherwise, some opportunity to confirm that I am still alive and kicking will no doubt crop up in the year ahead.

I took some care over those emails and letters. I pondered on the design and content, wanting to make them seem both Christmassy and completely individual. After one or two had been sent, I hit on the idea of inserting a picture above the typed message, similar to the kind of thing on the front of commercial Christmas cards, but a picture taken by myself. There was ample material in my vast photo archive. I found half a dozen pictures without the slightest difficulty, and popped them into my emails and letters as the recipient's personality dictated. The printed letters actually came out best, because Microsoft Word let me select a number of styles, whereas Gmail didn't. I chose a style that added a shadow effect. Here, for instance, is the letter I sent to my very elderly (and now bedridden) aunt in South Wales. I thought of hand-writing the letter rather than typing it, but the extra-large font would be much easier for her to read. I signed the letter in my own fair hand though.


This example brings out several things that were important to me. One: a high degree of personalisation. This was sending Christmas greetings my way, and not in some shop-bought, same-as-everybody-else-on-my-list fashion. Two: the message, though brief, was individually composed. Nobody else's greeting was the same. Three: though short, the message was still more meaningful - and longer - than normally possible on most commercial Christmas cards, especially if - like me - you have large handwriting. 

I didn't mind the effort of creating such a greeting one bit. In fact it was a lot more satisfying than tackling a long Christmas card list in the manner of a huge industrial operation. 

Only the letters required stamps. I had just enough of them, and did not have to buy more. The high cost of stamps is nowadays an issue, but really it's a trifle compared to the labour of complying with the annual Christmas Greeting Ritual in what I shall henceforth call the Old Way.

I really regret not hitting upon this method of sending Christmas Greetings earlier in December. More people would then have heard from me this year. Next time, I will start sooner. But my list will still be very short. It will still exclude those whom I see frequently throughout the year - there is no point in sending someone you might speak to two or three times a week an additional greeting. But I do want to include everyone living far away - anyone I don't often see. And to respond to every card sent to me - which was indeed this year's plan, although only partly fulfilled.  

I'm sure that some will think me disorganised and/or lazy for abandoning the Old Way, and wanting to do it all differently. A woman friend even said, in a seriously-meant rebuke, 'That's not what women do. Women always make sure that the family's Christmas cards get bought, written and posted. Only men neglect that duty.' The key word there is 'family'. If you have no immediate family, no partner, and are not part of a household, then you represent no-one but yourself, and 'family rules' don't apply. Or at least, I can't see why they should.

So I don't think it mattered that I changed the rules of the game to suit my personal situation, and what Christmas actually meant to me. I'm rather glad I broke the mould. I'm now looking around at other old customs that have had their day. 2018 may well be a good year for doing many things a bit differently.

1 comment:

  1. Your Christmas email was received with joy and thanksgiving and I fully understand your reasons for abandoning the annual card-sending ritual.

    I would like to continue sending you a card for your birthday and Christmas as it's something that I enjoy doing, and I hope you enjoy receiving them. This year's Xmas card was designed by a trans lady whose blog features on my list of Favourites and was, I felt, a little unusual.

    Happy New Year! x

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Lucy Melford