Christmas cards are getting an awful bad rap this year. It’s a queer thing indeed that will make us Irish get riled up over. People dying on hospital trolleys? Well that will make us shake our head and lament the state of our crumbling health service. Threaten us with water charges and suddenly we’ve taken to the streets shouting about our civil liberties being encroached upon and demanding the government to make a U-turn on making us pay for our water. (Though was I happy to see a cheque from Irish Water land in my door this week? You bet I was!)
Increased stamp prices
So it goes with Christmas cards. The price of the stamp has been steadily rising for the past few years due to people sending less letters. Why bother when emails will do? Now I’ll admit there is a positive enviromental aspect to this. Less letters and bills on paper means less trees being cut down. It seems that that last increase of the stamp (to a now eye-watering €1) has been the final straw that broke the paper camel’s back. People are outraged. And they’re just not sending Christmas cards anymore. Instead many are now choosing to donate the money they would have spent on cards to charities, which I agree is a lovely thing to do.
Still it makes me wonder why we’ve gone postal (pun intended!) over the price of the stamps when one stamp is still only a third of some of the fancy coffees we can’t live without on our morning commute? I love to write Christmas cards. It gives me a chance to reach out to the people I love but who I may not have had much contact with during the year. We are all living increasingly busy lives. I’m not sure why or how we found ourselves on this path but we proceed nonetheless. Sitting down to write cards gives me chance to pause and reflect. It gives me a chance to connect to those I haven’t spoken to much but who are still very much on my mind.
A record of the year just passed
There’s another lovely aspect to it and that is the changes Christmas cards unknowingly chart. When people change houses, when they move country and when there are new surnames to write down. Then there is my personal favourite-when two names on the card become three or four. The thrill of writing the name of a new family member or friend’s wee sprog is something really special. At the other end of the scale, there is the sadness when a name is no longer written in the card, or a card is no longer sent to a particular address. Luckily for us, however, most of our loved ones are still with us but those who are gone, it gives us another chance to remember them and the memories we shared.
In writing those new addresses and names, I’m reminded of the twists and turns my favourite people on the planet have faced. It’s a wonderful way to round off the year. It’s also a chance to look forward to what changes the new one will bring. So we’ll keep on writing those Christmas cards and wishing our loved ones well. Until the next price increase at least!
Tomorrow, December 18th, is the last day to ensure Christmas cards get to Europe on time. Wednesday 20th is the last day for cards within Ireland.