Why should you send Christmas cards?
Some of my fondest memories from childhood Christmases are about cards. Sitting with my Mum, rifling through her address book and finding out about the people in it while she wrote all of the cards we sent out each year, and the hundreds (well there seemed to be that many when I was small) of cards lining the shelves of our living room that we received in return. How cheerful they made the room look, the competitions with my brother to see who could spot the most matching pairs, listening to my Gran counting, counting, counting under her breath – before coming to the conclusion that we had a lot of cards!
The tradition of sending Christmas cards dates back to the 1840s. In 1843, Sir Henry Cole found himself in a somewhat stressful situation – the expansion of the British postal service and the introduction of the “Penny Post” meant that letters from friends and acquaintances were piling up – and in Victorian England it was impolite not to answer your mail! Cole hit on the brilliant idea of sending Christmas cards to his friends. Cole commissioned an illustration by his friend J.C. Horsley and this illustration depicting a family celebrating the holiday featured along with the sentiment “A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year to You” on the 1,000 cards that Cole had printed. After Cole had sent cards to all of his friends and family the remainder were sold for sixpence each, making them the first commercial Christmas cards.
Over the decades since the 1840s, the tradition for sending cards over the festive season has expanded to encapsulate other holidays and celebrations, but in today’s digital age are cards still relevant? I certainly think so - and before you cry “Of course you would!”, please read on and let me tell you why.
It's fun to get mail
Do you still listen for the sound of the letterbox or get excited when you check your mailbox, only to be disappointed that all that comes via snail mail these days are bills and junk mail? Isn’t it wonderful when you find a hand-written card amidst all that junk? Sending Christmas and holiday cards gives you the satisfaction of knowing you’ll give other people that feeling.
You'll spread some festive cheer
The simple act of writing and sending Christmas cards puts you in a cheerful mood – all those memories about the people you’re writing to, the festive pictures on the cards... You can spread these warm fuzzy feelings by sending hand-written cards instead of a catch-all text or email.
You can keep people in the loop
Most of us have friends and family that we don’t see very often for whatever reason. Sending them a Christmas card is the ideal opportunity to let them know what’s been going on in your life. A thoughtful, personal message will always make someone smile. And yes – of course you could do this on social media or in an email, but…
Not everyone's on their tech all the time
Shocking, but true – not everyone is on social media and not everyone checks their emails a thousand times a day. Absolutely it’s easier to write one message, click send and believe that everyone you want to see it will. But will they really see it? It’s so easy to miss posts on social media (even if they appear in your feed) and our inboxes are so full that personal messages are easily lost.
You get to unplug
When was the last time you sat down and spent a few hours doing something that didn’t require screen time? Writing your Christmas and holiday cards allows you to step away from the screen and spend a few hours with a pen in your hand.
You can practice your handwriting
Did you know that writing has numerous benefits for the brain and the body? Studies have shown that it can reduce stress, improve focus and attention, increase memory and retention, help to improve mood and bring things into focus. Who doesn’t need this?
Cards act as decorations
If you’re anything like me, any cards you receive go on display as soon as they arrive – and they stay there for as long as possible. Not only that, special cards are put away for safekeeping and I always smile when I stumble across these little mementos in later years. Can you say the same about emails?
It's a timeless tradition
Generations of people have been sending their Christmas and holiday messages this way. Just because there’s a new way of doing it doesn’t mean things have to change!
And it seems that I’m not the only one who feels this way. A recent study by Oxfam showed that seven out of 10 adults polled consider the humble Christmas card a fantastic way of staying in touch and eight out of 10 would hate to see technology taking over their favourite time of year!
What are your favourite festive childhood memories and why? Let me know in the comments.