Brian Viner: Argh! It's Christmas card time again

If a card is all that’s keeping you in touch, at least use it to say something

Share
Related Topics

December is not yet a week old and already we have had 14 Christmas cards. Who are these people? Actually, I know who they are. They're friends with much more organised lives than ours, and we regard them with admiration and envy but also a dash of resentment, for reminding us that the tyranny of the Christmas card list is nigh.

My youngest son is playing Scrooge in his primary school production of A Christmas Carol the week after next, and it may well be that I recognise a chip off the old block: I hate the whole pantomime of sending Christmas cards, and I'm not much better at receiving them, although I admit to taking a small perverse pleasure in judging the sender.

The big, handsome bespoke card, with the sender's name and address in glossy raised type, is the one that really gets my Christmas goat. But so does any card that doesn't bear the name of a charity on the back. My wife and I have an annual tut-tutting ritual when we open cards that exist only to raise money for WHSmith.

If the point of sending Christmas cards is to show that you are thinking of others, then at least go the extra yard and contribute a few pence to Oxfam, or breast cancer research, or the local donkey sanctuary, or anything, really.

Without the charity element, sending Christmas cards becomes an even bigger exercise in social posturing than it already is. It's already bad enough, not sending cards to people you haven't received a card from since 2005, only to scribble something hurriedly when theirs arrives on the 23rd.

Or sending bigger, more expensive cards to the folk you want to alert to the fact that you're doing well for yourself in life, like the ageing parents of the girlfriend who chucked you 20 years ago, while saving for the milkman and the postman the little square ones featuring three wise men slightly out of register.

Then there's the dreaded round-robin letter. "This year we spent quite a lot of time in our second home in South Africa," is a verbatim quote from a round-robin circulated to my university friends and myself by one of our contemporaries. Still, at least she gave us all something to retch over. There are other round-robins that are like literary Mogadon: "Nick's grandma got quite a lot deafer in the course of the year," wouldn't be interesting even if we'd met Nick's grandma, which we hadn't.

But at the same time, if a Christmas card is all that's keeping you in touch with someone, then at least use it to say something. A few extra words on a card doesn't hurt, as long as it's not "must get together in 2009", which is Christmas card-speak for "probably won't see you until we meet accidentally in an airport, in 2017".

I've realised I'm running out of space before I've even scraped the icing off the top of the Christmas cake. There's also competitive card-sending, whereby friends send you cards bearing detailed architectural drawings of St Paul's Cathedral, and on the back, the devastating message "designed by Toby Merryweather, aged 4".

Not to mention the silly business of grown women handing Christmas cards to each other outside the school gate. I always want to say "you're both 43, love, not seven", but of course that would get me earmarked as a miserable old sod with no yuletide spirit, which would never do.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Take a moment to imagine you're Ed Miliband...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
 

Letters: No vote poses difficult questions – so why rush?

Independent Voices
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits