Monday, 10 December 2012

Christmas cards – RIP?



C
all me Scrooge, but what is the point of Christmas cards in this day and age of technology? Since the price of a second-class stamp has reached a jaw-dropping 50p my aversion to Christmas cards has grown and grown.

I used to have over 60 people on my Christmas card list, but thanks to a recent culling I’m down to about 40 and I’ve told my local friends to save their money and not send me one.

Last year, I watched mothers in the playground hand cards to other mums they saw day in day out! Why?

This year, I plan to give my local friends milling around the school gates a winning smile and a kiss on a cold cheek as I mumble “Happy Christmas” into their ear.

So who started the ball rolling on this expensive piece of trivia that we can all do without?
I did a bit of research on Christmas cards and according to Wikipedia, sure enough the original motivation behind the tradition was money.

Legend has it that Sir William Cole, an inventor and civil servant, commissioned painter John Callcott Horsley to design the world’s first commercial Christmas card in 1843.

Just three years earlier the Penny Post, the forerunner of the post office, had been set up. Over 2,000 of these cards were printed and sold for a shilling each.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that money then was based on a “two-base” system so a shilling was worth 12p and there were 20 shillings to the pound. Got it? Personally, having worked in tens all my life it’s a bit tricky to get my head around.

I bought a packet of 20 cards for £2 the other day, 10p each (wow, I’m cheap) and if I wanted to post them all second class it would cost me ten quid.

So at 10p each, why don’t I buy them to give them to local friends? Good question, which I’m struggling to answer. How about this it’s still a commercial rip off and besides, my hand aches writing them all out.

On a serious note, we have so many other ways of communicating with each other now that it feels less relevant. I’ve got friends abroad who I “write” to via Facebook or email and I know far more about their lives than I would do if we communicated via our very expensive snail mail.

However, the truth is half the Christmas cards I write out this season I WILL be posting because these are people I really don’t see from one year to the next. In fact we don’t even email or text so sending a Christmas card is, to me, a valuable way of keeping that contact going.

What do you think?

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