Monday, December 17, 2007

Tread on Tradition

It's time to stand up and say NO! That's right, it's time. For far too many years we've been forced by huge corporations, our own consumerist society and the invisible strength of peer pressure to do it.

It's expensive, boring and annoyingly time consuming. It contributes absolutely nothing of worth to the world or our lives as we know them and is worthless in a very short time.

This activity does not feed us, pleasure us or entertain us; nor does it bring families together, further our knowledge or encourage us to be better human beings. It contributes to the waste of environmental resources, landfill and wastes precious fuel and funds on transportation and delivery.

Perhaps most annoyingly, it is something that women invariably end up doing without any interest or offers of help by our men. Most of us wonder, at some stage in our long term relationships, just what our fellas did about this tradition before they met us because they sure as hell haven't bothered to do anything about it since then. And I'm not talking about the ironing, prompt nose hair trimming or the provision of 5-star quality rumpy-pumpy.

Have you guessed what I'm standing up for yet? CHRISTMAS CARDS. Those pesky little folded squares of cardboard that have been filling up letterboxes since mid-November. Most of them come from the cheap 30-packs for $4.99, so your bookshelf or mantelpiece is festooned with dodgy 1960s photos of baubles, or worse still, those god-awful paintings of Christmas trees in the snow with the three wise men puzzlingly standing alongside.

As for the message inside, if it just has "To The MillyMoo Family" and their scrawled signature inside, I don't know whether to be relieved or offended. Despite the brevity, I tend to feel relieved that it doesn't contain those horrible photocopied chain letters of "What the Side Bottom-Johanssens did this year" because nothing says 'I personally care about you' more than a mass printout, does it? On the other hand, should I be offended because we weren't even worth the fifteen seconds required to scrawl out an additional hand-written sentence along the lines of "Must catch up soon - have a great 2008” ?

No matter where you display the damn things, they always end up on the floor when someone opens the door. If they're slung over a ribbon across the window the force of gravity eventually lures them to the lowest point so that it looks like you've only got one friend who sent you a card because all the others are hiding underneath.

And there's the real truth: we only bother to buy, write and post Christmas cards because we want some back. We yearn for these tacky little rectangles so that we can reassure ourselves that we are indeed popular, that everyone loves us and we're running out of space to display these symbols of respect and admiration. That’s the real truth and I know it because that's why I've been doing it. Up until now.

If we're all honest with ourselves, most of our closest mates are either living in the same town or have email, so the traditional Christmas card is obsolete. It has instead been replaced by emailed jokes or those 'Please DO NOT DELETE - eight-year old limbless Cletus from Idaho will die from cancer without having met his retarded birth mother and jailed father and only eat a dry corn cob for his Christmas dinner (by sucking it of course, seeing as he has no limbs) if you do not pass this on within twenty four hours.' By sending these without any other text of your own, it's cyber shorthand for 'Hey, you're still my friend but I'm too busy/can't be shagged to write to you right now, but enjoy the joke.'

That's the real truth too, isn't it? Perhaps I should make a stand on two issues - a) no sending Christmas cards and b) no sending on silly jokes unless I genuinely have a laugh when I first read it. Who wants to join me on this political stance?

Besides, with the money and time you save, you can instead enjoy these precious babies:


River said...

You "borrowed" my line. On the very few cards I sent this year I wrote "have a great 2008" along the bottom of each one. I'd send you an email card/message if I had the address. Not sure if I can copy/paste into a comment box. Of course I could just type Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, but then you wouldn't get the cute little pictures I've chosen this year. You're right about the waste though. I think I'll switch to email cards next year.

ashleigh said...

Hah yes.

We've managed to cut it down to about 6 this year, mainly out of a feeling of obligation.

We do the annual christmas letter, for some folks that we see (and or who see us) every once in a blue moon, it is a reasonable way of finding out WHO THERE KIDS ARE CALLED and a little tiny bit about what the heck they've been up to. So I do the same back. i've crossed you off the list though - wouldn't want to offend by sending one a them evil things.

For most, though, we're just emailing a PDF version of the letter, its the high tech / low waste way to get a similar result.

The whole thing does carry with it a feeling of obligation, which is a bit of a drag.

And in the dump house, its Mr Dump who is the prime mover this year. Mrs Dump is all Christmassed out. Already.

davey said...

Dang it. I was convinced last night by my flatmate that cards are a good alternative to presents, as I still don't have access to any money in London. Now I feel all self conscious.

What about homemade xmas cards Mill? And with something funny written inside. Surely I can get cool points for that? Upside being that I can steal the paper and yellow highlighters from work.

Milly Moo said...

Onyer, River - email's the way to go - it's really no more impersonal than a shop-bought greeting card when you think about it. After writing nearly 100 cards each year, I'd sometimes then sit back and realise that at least half of them would now be folk I'd probably never bother to call and meet up with if I visited their town/city again anyway - exactly how much would i have in common with the lady I worked with for three months about 17 years ago?

Ashleigh - well done my MAN. I congratulate you on being one of the rare blokes who takes on the task and agree that the stress of finding out what old buddies' kids are called does sometimes warrant waiting for their annual 'what we did in 2007' letter before you can respond with a card listing all of their names instead of Dear Adult One, Adult Two and 'family'...

Homemade Chrimbo cards are AOK Davey. Even if they resemble something done by the clumsiest sheltered workshop employee, it at least shows that the recipient was worth a minute or two of thought, glue stick effort and the choice of cardboard backing!

franzy said...


I get about two cards a year from my Queensland rellies and that is IT. I can actually recall a time when I got more, but, because I never send any out, those numbers have dwindled ... dwindled ..........dwindled.
And I don't really care. I'm not resting my entire stock of self esteem on the number of cards I have laying flat on the mantelpiece (mantelpiece!!! In THIS hole! Ha!).

Actually: here's a tip for displaying Xmas cards: slot them into your bookshelf. The books hold the back of the cards firmly as you please.

Dune said...

I send e-cards to everyone except my older relatives, who get a card and a letter to go with it (since it's in the form of my "annual contact"). I think it's nice to get in touch with people at this time of year but, as you say, actual cards just find themselves in the rubbish bin pretty quickly. At least this way I'm not wasting as many trees :)

River said...

Cards -> bookshelf = thank you Franzy. Now I don't have to pick up all my cards (3) when I run the fan.

TOM said...

I don't do cards, I'm a bit of a scrooge anyway, I do like the angle on chocolates though...This year I did email a greeting to family....and of course I hope you have a Wondeful Christmas filled with chocolate !!

Anonymous said...

OH WOW! You mean we were supposed to send Christmas cards out and keep the ones we get every year?!!

Crap! No one told meee! I've been
throwing 'em away!




Another of your friendly neighborhood BlogExplosion members just passing through.

redcap said...

I bought cards this year and have yet to send a single one. It was as much as I could manage to scribble on some for work, let alone home. My pals know I love them. Don't you? Guys? Hello, guys? ~crickets chirping~

cube said...

I agree about the Christmas cards AND the chocolate :-)