Christmas Cards

There was a time when I used to send over one hundred Christmas cards. I was so obsessed with missing the posting dates, that I resolved to send them early, very early. For many years, I would ensure that they were all in the post by the second week of November. This understandably irritated some of the recipients, as by the time they were receiving more cards, my one had long been lost or mislaid.

The large number I sent was not only to family members, and long standing friends. It also included former school friends I had not seen since I was seventeen, work colleagues from jobs I had done in the past, and even neighbours next door to houses I had long since sold and moved from. And that amount didn’t include those I might hand out personally, to people I was working with, staff at hospitals, and people at places I encountered in my everyday working life.

This may seem excessive, I agree. However, I saw it as a way of keeping in touch, mostly with people I would never see again, or rarely met up with anymore. And most of them seemed to enjoy that contact; returning cards containing recent photos, family updates contained in short letters, and very often a change of address notification, as they moved around. I would generally receive almost the same amount, often more than I had sent. It made me feel good, to keep up that annual tradition of ‘touching base’ with so many people, far and wide.

Over the decades, I noticed some changes in my address book, and noted that some people no longer sent me cards in return. A few had died, and some had gone so far as to inform me that they would no longer be sending any cards. That was fair enough, I still sent them one anyway. The arrival of the Internet meant that some people began to send a generic ‘Electronic card’, adding every contact in their email address book, and just clicking ‘Send’. I could understand that too, as postage costs in Britain were becoming steep, with the price of a stamp far exceeding the cost of the card inside the envelope. But I budgeted for those increases, and carried on sending my hundred-plus cards every year.

Once I retired and moved here to Norfolk, I decided to send the cards later, waiting until the first week of December to post them off. Without the large salary I was used to, I did notice that the continued price increases in stamps was making it an expensive annual proposition, on a greatly reduced income. But I bit the bullet, and carried on regardless. During the last six years, my contact list has reduced considerably. More deaths in the family, friends lost too. Some people may have misplaced my change of address, or just decided that enough was enough. And the postage costs had risen to new highs. A second-class stamp (slower delivery time) now costs 58 p. In old money, that is over eleven shillings. For someone of my age, that seems to be outlandish, and almost unthinkable, to post one small letter or card. (For the benefit of my American friends, that is 73 cents)

So, sending one hundred cards would cost me £58, ($73) plus the purchase price of the cards. I can buy nice cards for around £2.50 for a pack of ten, each less than half the price of the stamp needed to send them. The few cards that I like to send abroad are also ridiculously expensive to post. A small card to America is over £2 by air mail, and similar cards sent to France cost almost £1.50 each. This year, I finally began to think seriously about my card list. I checked off all the people I hadn’t heard from in years, and crossed through all those I know have died. Then I went through some others whose addresses I am no longer sure about, and excluded them too. By the time I had completed my reluctant ‘cull’, I written just forty-one cards. They will be posted today, the latest I have ever sent a Christmas card.

So, if any of the sixty-plus people who didn’t get a card from me are reading this.
Sorry about that.

60 thoughts on “Christmas Cards

  1. I never got into the card thing, although girlfriends and wives over the years have stepped up and taken on the challenge on my behalf. I’m not even that good with electronic greetings, but I do manage to phone around the family on Christmas day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It seems sending cards has diminished, much like writing letters. Some think an e-card or email is quite sufficient, but of course it is not. Writing and sending cards is on my list for today. Best to you, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the snail mail of Christmas greetings Pete. Receiving Christmas cards is still a joy but I stopped sending them a few years ago. They were replaced by e-mails, Messenger and Viber chats. It is easier I know but gone is the anticipation of receiving a card sometimes without knowing the sender on the envelope.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just once a year, it is nice to connect without using a computer or phone. I like to see all the cards drop into the post box too. A childish thing, as I was always allowed to post the letters and cards as a youngster. Have you seen a British post box, Arlene? They are quite big. Here is one, next to a classic phone box.
      https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-iconic-british-symbols-a-red-telephone-box-and-post-box-in-london-13436588.html
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Pete, Christmas cards are just another classic piece of history that are becoming history – for all of the reasons you mention…it’s great that you are continuing the tradition, even at a reduced scale…those who are still receiving them will be happy to get one, since probably all of the other mail they receive now is junk or ads…happy holidays!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. We have moved a lot and lost contact with many people. I stopped sending cards a few years ago and instead we donate the money it would have cost us to the Salvation Army for a Christmas meal for someone. It feels like we are doing something, and we can always keep in touch with people who still mean something to us by phone or email.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Hi Pete. I usually send about40 cards which I usually post around the first week of December, Its probably the first holiday thing I do after Thanksgiving. I too have a smaller card list than I did years ago, mostly due to passing of the recipients. I too keep in touch with some former colleagues from my working years and good friends I have known for decades.

    Your postage costs are outrageous! Currently costs 0.20 cents to mail a card anywhere in the U.S.

    Best regards from Florida.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. good for you, Pete. i send out a little more than a dozen christmas cards each year and write small notes particular to the recipient. i’m still an old school Pete and i love to receive handwritten notes. these i treasure the most. regards!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Is there still a difference in GB between air mail and regular? Here in the US, as well as in my native Germany, any mail across the big pond is sent by air. I don’t know the Grman postage any more, but from here to Europe it is$1.05. W have a good thing, “global forever” stamps. They never expire. So I have quite a stack of them. Postcards to Europe, btw, require the same postage as letters.
    For a few years now I have turned to not send Christmas cards any more, but a short resume of the year, in a letter. As to the timing: I usually get that letter out too late, procrastinator that I am. This year I am unusually early and will very likely get the letters mailed tomorrow.
    Have great weekend,
    Pit

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is still a difference between air mail, and normal post, Pit. There are also three tiers in the national postal system, First Class, Second Class, and Large Letter. But like yours, stamps do not expire, so any unused ones are good for an indefinite period. 🙂
      I just sent a lightweight card by air mail to Boston today. It cost £1.60, and won’t even arrive in time…
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m thinking. As far as I know, there’s something called “priority mail” here, but I don’t exactly know what that is, not even if it is for letters or parcels. Maybe the latter.
        Have great weekend,
        Pit

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow, you are so organized. As long as you enjoy sending them out, keep at it! 🙂 I do enjoy getting the annual holiday photo from families with kids who live far away so you can keep up with them. I don’t much care for a text holiday message either. I got a couple for Thanksgiving not realizing it was a broadcast message. Doesn’t mean as much somehow.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I thought you were going to tell us you’d got it down to two, one of which was the postwoman and the other your next door neighbour.

    I bet it was one of those Victorian inventions. They came up with some daft “traditional” ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a Victorian invention, BF. Apparently, it was inspired by the popularity of Valentine cards, and the common use of a ‘carte de visite’. (I saw that on a news feature. 🙂 )
      But of course, postage was only one penny, back in those days.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh! I felt all your emotions reading this post. As a kid, I loved getting the mail. It meant something ‘fun’ was arriving. When I hit my 20s, I liked getting bills to see if it would match my prediction. In my 30s, I hated checking the mail as it brought things that usually weren’t fun (except for cards!). Now I email everything, but I still love getting cards in the mail. 🙂 Wonderful post sharing the truth. 11 shillings, I’m still giggling.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. You are so well organised, Pete. I will spend this evening writing cards – though this afternoon I really have to post the ones to Canada, knowing it is quite probable they will be late because of strike action over there. Unless it has been sorted. I do enjoy receiving cards from old friends I rarely see and know they are still thinking of me – even if only once a year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just back from the Post Office, Mary. One slim card to the USA was £1.60 by air mail, and won’t arrive in time for Christmas. I am not so well organised these days, but I used to be. I think it was having to always work around shifts for so long. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Strange how easy it is to lose track these days, despite all the possible ‘electronic’ connections. I have decided that if someone loses track of me, then it is probably for the best. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  13. I hardly send any cards these days, either. I was never great at keeping in touch anyway, to be fair.

    I stopped giving cards to work colleagues many years ago when someone set up a charity giving page as an alternative. I’ve also never really seen the point of giving a card to someone you are going to be seeing over the Christmas period in any case.

    You’ll be pleased to know, though, that you are still on my Christmas card list (you should have received it by now, I think).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers mate. 🙂
      Yours will be in the post today.
      Your comment reminded me of the old saying, “He/She is off my Christmas card list”.
      That was often used to express a falling out with someone.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  14. I also used to send a lot of cards, but with my many moves and recent events I have stopped sending cards and I don’t really get many either. I send personal messages to the people I have remained in touch with and the rest.. I’m sure won’t miss it. And then, there are the blogging friends and I try to do a post around that time. (It has got very expensive, it’s true!)
    I think many of the people who truly cared about cards are no longer around, and in the last few years I’d joined some of the initiatives at work to donate the money we would have spent on cards to local charities. I intend to carry on doing that.
    I think I’ve left it too late now, but you’ve reminded me of some of the people I only hear about once a year and they will not even know I’ve moved…

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I have not sent cards for many years now, I couldnt see the point of chopping down trees to make cards for me to send to people I don’t have anything to do with except for one day of the year. And in truth getting in touch with someone just for one day seems quite ridiculous, if you genuinely care about someone you keep in touch a lot more often than that. I do telephone (via internet so no phone bill 😊) my friend in America and have a good chat, much more heartwarming than a card.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. I also used to send a lot of cards, but I seem to have totally stopped over the last few years. It had become a chore, which was hardly the point. I now write a Christmas letter with family news, and send it off to people I don’t see because they live abroad, but with whom I still like to keep in touch.

    Liked by 1 person

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