Being Modern: #46 Christmas cards


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Indy Lifestyle Online

What, you might ask, is remotely modern about the sending and receiving of greetings cards at Christmas? Been around since the 1840s... Queen Victoria, Sir Henry Cole, yada, yada. The practice developed, you made a list, you put a day aside to write the cards, address envelopes, lick stamps and sit back and wait for your own mantelpiece to fill.

Happy times. Lately, though, things have become slightly more complex. First, there is the middle-class guilt. Better check the annual "Scrooge Awards" to find out which fundraising cards return the smallest percentage to the organisation they claim to support before deciding which cards to buy.

Then there's the environmental impact. Got that sorted, too. The Woodland Trust has, for the past 12 years, collected and recycled Christmas cards; an initiative that has, according to its own records, saved more than 12,000 tonnes of paper from landfill.

So why, then, has this decades-old and frankly rather quaint tradition fallen foul of the digital revolution? "Olivia sends season's greetings to all her friends," young women might update their statuses on Facebook. "Oliver wishes everyone a happy holiday #mincepies," young men will no doubt tweet as the season of goodwill draws near.

Worst of all are the round-robin text messages. "Merry Chrimbo 2 all xo xo" they will send to every name in their smartphone contacts, neatly removing any possibility of missing anyone out – including, perhaps, their doctor, dentist and car mechanic.

And it only gets worse on New Year's Eve, when – as soon as the midnight formalities are out of the way – suddenly you find yourself in a room full of people with heads pointed downwards, thumbs frantically flying across glowing devices.

At least you get the chance to reply. Unlike the old days when, long after the deadline had gone, a card from your aunt in Australia would land on the doormat. Which reminds us. There's a week left to send that card to Oz. Sometimes, Being Modern means preferring the old-fashioned approach.