The Mayan apocalypse was a myth, but cardageddon is gathering momentum. Almost everyone finds writing Christmas cards a chore, and a fairly pointless one at that. It has long become a routine: I’ll send one so you’d better send back. It is also an opportunity to tell glaring lies such as “Must meet up in 2013.”
It has also become costly, although this was not the main motivation in my decision. In Britain the Post Office has raised the cost of a second-class stamp to 50p, ensuring that even committed card fans are examining their consciences. It is an instance of wonderful marketing on the part of the Royal Mail. Since fewer letters are being sent, the answer is to raise the cost of stamps to cover the overheads and contribute to profits. The sensible solution, as any supermarket tycoon will confirm, is to cut the cost of the product until people start buying it again.
Over the past twenty years things that were cheap, such as sending a greetings card, have become expensive. Conversely, phone calls, which used to be something of a luxury, are now mostly free. Added to that, we have text messages, email and social networks, all helping us to keep in touch more regularly with friends. Who needs Christmas cards any more?
I decided, then, to knock the card on the head. About half my cardees were on email, so I wrote a personal message to them all late in November. No round robin, mind; it was a personally addressed note. I cheated by using Text Expander to add appropriate boiler-plated platitudes, but the thought was appreciated. A surprisingly large number of people wrote back to say I’d given them encouragement to follow suit.
This left half of my usual card senders without email addresses. So I set about phoning or writing to one or two every day, explaining that this year and in the future I would not be sending cards. I felt this was necessary, at least in the first year.
I suggested to all that we should keep in touch by more personal means and not just once a year when mass mailings are the norm. A quick phone call, a personal email is far preferable in my book.
I am now officially MacScrooge and I feel a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders.
by Mike Evans, 23 December 2012