Andrea Mara

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Christmas Card Dilemma

It’s kind of a tipping point isn’t it – a euro for a stamp. I remember when the price went up, Christmas was the first thing that sprang to mind. 60 cards would mean €60 on stamps. It might just be too much.

And over the last week, having seen many sensible people posting on Facebook about donating to charity instead of sending cards, I strongly considered joining their ranks.

But then what about the people who are not on Facebook I wondered? How would I wish them a happy Christmas? Maybe that’s where the line would go – I’ll just send cards to people who are not online. So Christmas cards for my aunts and uncles, and a Facebook post for everyone else.

But then there are the people who are away for Christmas, and might be missing home. Wouldn’t it be nice for them to get a card? It would. (As long as I haven’t missed last posting date.) (I have.)

And of course I could write some to close family and deliver them in person – it’s not the same as seeing a card plop through the letterbox, but it’s something.

So aunts and uncles, anyone else not on Facebook, people away for Christmas, and immediate family. And that’s it. I’m being sensible.

Then I took out my Christmas card list, and my eldest started to read through it.

“Who is that Mum?” She’s my good friend from my old job. I must send her a card.

“Who is this?” She’s my cousin in Cork. “I like her kids’ names, will I write their card?” Do so, you do that one.

“And who are these people who live in New York?” They don’t live in New York, they live in Hong Kong now, and we got a card from them today – do you want to put one aside for them?

“Are these all Dad’s group of friends? There are so many of them, and so many kids – which ones did I meet that day in the summer?” You met all of them, lets send them some cards. Will you write out the addresses for me?

“And that’s your friend who we saw on holidays isn’t it?” It is, we had great fun that night with her kids. Let’s send her this card.

“Why isn’t the baby mentioned on your address list?” Because she wasn’t born last year, I need to update the list and put her name on their card.

“This part of the list is your group of friends, isn’t it Mum, your best friends from school.” It is. It is, and I see where this is going.

And I’m transported back to Christmases past, watching my mum writing card after card. Ticking names off a list that’s nothing like mine but exactly like mine. Writing letters to slip inside cards. Swapping months or even a whole year of news, because sometimes the Christmas card was the only contact. And I remember the cards coming in – five, six, seven at a time. And my mum warning us not to throw away the envelopes if we opened them, because she needed new addresses if any had changed. Letters on the thinnest airmail paper, the blue and red strip signalling transatlantic post. Nativity scenes, robins, snowy gardens, and an occasional Santa, all standing on the mantlepiece to festive attention.

And I wonder about a time when perhaps there will be no Christmas cards any more. And whether or not it matters. And if cards will seem like a quaint part of bygone days, when we’ll wonder why we spent so much time writing them. Or if we’ll miss them. I think I’ll miss them. So I’ll have one last year and then I’ll stop. Maybe.


(Now I’m off to see which limb I’ll sell to buy my stamps.)





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