Despite having them out on the mantelpiece ready to write since 1 Dec, I’ve been putting off writing Christmas cards all month. Normally I really enjoy sitting for a couple of evenings, thinking about each of my friends and family in turn as I write a few words to them in a daft wee card. Not this year. I’ve been wondering why. The best I can come up with (other than that I am obviously a lazy nightmare of a person) is that writing to a friend I’ve not seen all year makes me feel wistful and melancholy. Writing to a family who have one less person to mark the New Year with than they had last year is just heart-breaking. Next year I’m going to buy a village a goat in lieu of buying and sending any Christmas cards. The Boss voted for the village we live in. I out-voted him.
Don’t mind me, I’m just uber-grumpy at the moment. It’s not been helped by the annual Trauma By Christmas card.
In fairytales and marketing campaigns, we women (it’s never men, is it?) are pictured writing Christmas cards, fountain pen (of course) cradled deftly, a whimsical smile playing on our lips, an Irish coffee or glass of Baileys nearby and a blazing fire almost out of shot. It’s such an often-used picture that it’s a caricature. Every piece of it is essential to the entire image, nothing can be left out, especially the smile. Ooooo the smile. What is the model supposed to be smiling about? Happy memories of the person she is writing to? And what fond sentiments are she writing so fluently?
What a load of old cobblers! On my planet, Christmas cards are written in a frenzy of rushing to catch the day after the last post, or if written in time, then the cursive effort is accompanied by muchos-cursing from me (I can never think of anything apt or witty or smart or caring to write). I never have a glass of anything to hand (too likely to spill it over the last of the cards) never mind alcoholic (too easy to mispell my own name under the influence). And the only fire in this household is if I’ve forgotten the sausages cooking. Again. As for a smile – ha! More like a scowling frown as I vainly search for the right envelope to fit the right card size, battle against the bile rising from too much envelope- and stamp-gum licking, and curse over running out of ‘large’ stamps.
Having children makes it a hundred times worse. Today, Little Miss Popularity P got 11 Christmas cards from her friends. She’s 4! Miss Likeable L got 5. She’s 2. I have a really hard time writing 30 cards to toddlers from a toddler. For goodness sake! They can’t read! They’re too young to take umbrage at not getting a card from so-and-so! But as the mountain of Christmas cards grows from other kids, my guilt makes me buy 3-for-the-price-of-2 boxes of mini cards at the supermarket and spend a whole week of evenings at the kitchen table, writing my 100 lines: “To x Merry Christmas Love from Z xxx” At least the 4-year-old can write her own name, so can be roped into at least signing it on most of them. I just need to dissuade her from drawing a huge mural masterpiece on all but her immediate relatives’ cards (or we’ll be here till next year…)
Don’t even talk to me about glitter. I hate glitter. I am the most ungirly, un-pink, un-glittery person you’ll meet. But I am covered in the stuff. I recently blew my nose and checked (yeah, sorry, but I’ve been getting nose bleeds and it is relevant). Yep, the contents had glitter in them <sigh> I think it’s like those factories that cannot declare any of their food nut-free because they once had an employee eat a packet of peanuts in the office, once, last Christmas – you can choose non-glittery cards, but at some point in their lifespan they’ll have come into contact with a glittery one. And that once is enough to cross-contaminate with the vile, sparkly stuff and transfer it onto me. Grrrr.
Every year I get more exasperated at the madness and sheer pointlessness of Christmas cards. I dither for days over which designs to buy, take a week (minimum) to write them (hating every moment), prop up the Royal Mail by buying hundreds of stamps to send them all, only for them to be looked at once and recycled a week or 2 later. Every year I realise too late that I’ve bought into the madness again and declare, “That’s it, never again, I’m going to buy a goat”. Except, how will you tell all your friends and family that you bought some poor village a goat instead of sending them a Christmas card? Yeah – you write or email. Might as well send a blinking Christmas card, then! So pass me a glass of something very alcoholic, will you? I need it after tonight’s mammoth efforts. Those toddlers better be grateful.