A Christmas letter for you

Posted by Kelvyn Gardner on December 24, 2010

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As I’m faced by a last day’s endeavours before the Christmas break, I wonder has there been anything different about advent this year? I reckon that for the first time I’ve received far more electronic Christmas cards than printed cards. Some plain and simple, a few with bells and whistles, although the latter are now in the minority, too – I reckon everyone’s got wise to the spam filters and HTML blockers that exist to protect our machines also shredding sophisticated Christmas greetings.

Although our friends in the card trade would not agree, this has to be a positive move.  Christmas cards, like all greeting cards, are a derivative of letter-writing.  Clearly we are all tending to use e-mail more than regular mail, so why should cards be any different? In fact, a Christmas letter, originally, would have been sent to someone whom otherwise you would not have been in touch with, and would have carried brief news and opinions as well as a greeting for the season. How did we get from that to the ‘tyranny’ of being obliged to send a card to everyone you vaguely know? This practice reaches its zenith in schools. Being male, we tend to be able to stand apart from certain emotional rituals, and exchanging cards is one of them. But the girls! My own daughter gave out a card each Christmas to each of her classmates, and received one in return! Thirty cards times thirty girls is nine hundred cards in just one classroom! No wonder UK retailer The Card Factory has gone from one store to 500 in ten years. To say that the exchange of cards was obligatory is like stating that it’s not a bad idea to pay your income tax in January. The penalty for not complying is social ostracisation on a grand scale.

So where am taking this? I guess that the message is don’t let a move to e-mail Christmas greetings mean that you send a message to even more people vaguely connected at ten links away on Linkedin.  Though it’s nice to be remembered, there isn’t much of a thought behind a blind-copy barrage of dubious ‘seasonal wishes’.  Post a general greeting on your website, and a message to a minority that you can take time over. LIMA UK has sent our warm wishes to all our members, which I think is appropriate. If we sent the message to our entire mailing list that would be more of a recruitment drive than a transmission of thanks and good will. As for this Christmas letter, well, the title is a little inspired by Phil Spector’s classic Christmas album, A Christmas Gift for You, still the finest collection of modern interpretations on classic Yuletide songs ever produced. As we look back to what has transpired in the years since it was recorded, several of the artists are no longer with us, and poor old Phil is in gaol for murder one. Not much of a Christmas gift. Our wish to you all is that the ones you receive bring you better and brighter fortune. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.