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The Christmas tradition that is distinctly second class

So here we are again, just a little over two weeks to go until Christmas.

The festive advertising has been going full blast for weeks now with bouncing dogs, talking carrots, roller-skating yetis and a globetrotting robin all vying to get us in the right spirit – and to part with our cash in the right places of course.

No doubt many of you are already well ahead with the planning. Presents will have been accumulating in your spare room for weeks now, snacks and nibbles will be stockpiling in your freezer and you’ve probably even considered trading in your Tesco vouchers so you can buy the Christmas booze.

They say Christmas comes but once a year – but it does appear nowadays that it lasts a lot longer than it used to. All the way from September until the middle of January when the decorations come down it seems.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not really a “Bah Humbug” sort of a guy, I enjoy Christmas shopping, I like giving presents, and I really like a traditional Christmas dinner.

But one thing I don’t like is Christmas cards – and especially not those where the sender includes a typed out sheet of “news from the past year”.

I received one this week from a cousin I haven’t seen in years. And like his missive from 2015 it was basically a list of illnesses he and his family has suffered over the past year, detailing hospital visits, mystery illnesses and operations. What a great way to suck the life out of Christmas.

But his is not as bad as the ones where the sheet inside the – personalised – card is a travelogue for all of the exotic holidays the sender has had this year. What is the point? Stick to facebook….

I’m sorry to say it, but in my humble opinion, Christmas cards are a huge waste of time and money.

According to the Greeting Card Association, there are around 100,000 people involved either directly or indirectly in the card industry – which is reputedly worth over £1.7 billion a year and with more than 900 million Christmas cards being sent annually. I take the point that it is a legitimate industry, putting food on the Christmas table for a lot of printers, designers, writers and shopkeepers.

And I also acknowledge that charities benefit each year by over £50 million in donations.

But for me, I can’t see the point of sending out a cheesy piece of paper with a trite verse inside and an illegible scrawl of a signature because you’re doing them in a rush before Eastenders comes on?

Mind you….I don’t think I’ll have to worry about them for much longer. I think the days of the Christmas card are numbered, despite what the greeting card industry might like to believe.

Think of it like this.  If we send more than 900 million Christmas cards – that’s an average of 17 cards for each and every adult over the age of 16.

Now, how many 16-25 year olds do you ever see sending Christmas cards? Virtually none I bet. Boyfriend/girlfriend maybe……possibly Mum and Dad…and that’s about it. They are certainly not licking and sticking their quota. Blanket status updates on Facebook wishing everyone Happy Christmas…or messaging everyone in their WatsApp groups is the way forward for them.

And look at the 26-40 year olds. Maybe they have a few long-distance friends or family…maybe they send a couple to work colleagues…but again…well below the average. They are far more likely to send a cheesy Christmas email with a singing gnome (don’t get me started on those…).

As usual…the people who send most of the cards are us – the older generations – but as we all move along life’s conveyor belt there will be fewer and fewer of us around each Christmas.

Within a few years, the non-card senders will outnumber the card senders, and the whole industry will be on the brink of meltdown.

For some families, sending out 100 cards is not unusual. Say they cost an average of 50p each, and they are all sent second class, that is an astonishing £105 added to the cost of Christmas – bonkers.

Of course, every year, without fail, there is someone you forget to send a card to…and inevitably, on Christmas Eve, the card they sent you drops on your mat, forcing you to rush out and post one first class so they at least get your belated best wishes before they go back to work in January. Embarrassing.

For Christmas cards, I believe the writing is on the wall – and it isn’t in beautiful script with a dusting of snow and holly berries.

Happy Christmas!

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