Yes, the humble folded cardboard greeting with a picture of (in most cases) a robin or (in a few) snow-covered churches, fresh-cheeked choirboys or comic Santas is 170 years old this year.
But will it reach its double century?
Three of these quaint anachronistic greetings have already reached me here at Dotterel HQ, though I’ve no idea who they’re from as I can’t quite bring myself to open them. Not until I’ve at least got my head around who I’m going to be sending my own season’s greetings to this year. And the way things are going, that won’t be until Christmas Eve.
I remember one Christmas, singing in a choir (as I still do) and in the pub (as is traditional) between Christmas Eve Nine Lessons and Carols and Midnight Mass a few hours (and a few pints) later one senior lay-clerk sitting at the table with a box of cards and writing them to all and sundry and asking anyone in the vicinity if they’d like a card. It was like a book-signing.
‘Name?’ he’d bellow.
‘Er… Tim. Of course. You know.’
‘Very well then,’ he’d growl as his teeth clenched the remains of a cigarette, scribbling with a flourish and then handing me a card.
I hope that won’t be me this year.
In fact, I know it won’t because one thing I have (slowly) managed to wean myself away from is the habit of sending a written card to those I’ll see over the festive season – those I’ll therefore be able to wish a ‘Happy Christmas!’ to in person.
Writing a card, handing it to somebody and then telling them some variant of the printed greeting inside the envelope they’re holding seems rather pointless, like handing somebody a postcard when you’ve come back from your holiday.
But perhaps that’s just me? (Bah, humbug!)
In fact I could even happily hasten the demise of the traditional card by using social media (Facebook, Twitter, even You Tube) as a substitute for sending greetings to those far flung friends and relations I won’t be seeing. It’s not that I don’t like Christmas. I love Christmas. Always have. And everything that goes with it. Well, almost everything.
Am I alone in my antipathy towards these venerable pieces of printed paper? Surely not.
The fact is, I do like receiving cards but really only from those I haven’t heard from since, well… last Christmas.
Oh, and one other thing. If you are sending cards, and you’re in the habit of including one of those round robin letter might I humbly and modestly steer you towards this advice?
Honestly, it’ll make everybody happy.