The annual Christmas card count

… and the results are in: numbers are down this year by about 30 per cent on previous years.

It’s been one of those strange mathematical constants for at least 10 years that no matter where we’ve lived or who we’ve been in contact with, we get roughly the same number of Christmas cards year after year.

And this number includes the three from people who we only correspond with at Christmas, the ten or so usual suspects (family and friends) who are organised and reliable, and the remaining 20 or so from people who you’re delighted to discover at the letterbox have made the effort to embrace the spirit of Christmas, spend 50 cents on a stamp and say something nice.

But in fact two things were different this year: not only the 30 per cent drop … but I also failed to send any cards out for the second year running (except to family in England when mailing presents, because otherwise that just wouldn’t be right). There are perfectly good reasons for this of course:

  • I didn’t have time (too much time blogging, clearly)
  • I spent too much time getting the Seven Year Old to write his cards to classmates, seeing he was receiving vast bundles each day overflowing from his backpack after school.
  • I didn’t have time (doing other far more important things, clearly)

It’s not that I didn’t want to write cards and say nice things about people I care about, it’s just that, well, maybe I thought that e-communication could fill the void, and I’d do my ‘Christmas email’ thing again. This had caused great consternation six or seven years earlier, when friendships had been threatened because of the ‘group email’ being so impersonal – a whole other discussion for another time, that one.

I see now that, in fact, I was ahead of my time, as my inbox received three similar Christmas emails this year, and has done for the past couple of years.

But again, therein lies the problem. My computer’s motherboard carked it in October, and with it went my email address book, so for the past few months I’ve been relying on my ISP’s webmail account which is a pitiful 20MB. I’ve since discovered that it’s very difficult to manage online social relationships with 20MB – and ain’t that a sign of the times.

So, getting back to Christmas, not only did I not send cards, but I also didn’t do a Christmas email and … the result is a 30 per cent reduction in received cards.

Here’s the question: did we get less cards because ‘what goes around [in or out of the ether] comes around’ or is everyone else in the same position? Hmmm.

Actually, the biggest issue right now is that I’ve admitted we used to get 30-35 cards each year, which I’m sure you must now be measuring my popularity against, and that makes me nervous.

Help me out and send a card next year, won’t you, to restore order to the balance of Christmas communication. I might even send you one back.

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