UNSOLICITED ADVICE

ON THE ELEVENTH DAY OF CRANKVENT... WISH ME SEASON'S GREETINGS LIKE YOU MEAN IT

One of the things I like best about this time of year is that any piece of mail I receive is statistically significantly less likely to be a bill than at any other time of year (except my birthday). That’s right, it’s Christmas card season!

I love Christmas cards. I love the ones with glitter, the ones with puns, the ones made by small children, the ugly ones you possibly received unasked from a charity and thought you’d put to good use, the short ones, the long ones, the “Christmas letter” ones, the incongruous Northern Hemispherean ones and the ostentatiously Australian ones. I cluster them on the mantel and tuck them under books on the bookcase, face out and hanging over the shelf edge, a seasonal exhibit of good will and fond wishes. Hurrah!!

I am also an enthusiastic sender of Christmas cards and I know they can be a lot of work. Even writing and stuffing and addressing maybe 20 cards can take you a good chunk of an evening. And what if you actually have to go to a post office to buy stamps?! Horror. (Particularly if all they have left are inappropriately jolly Christmas Island stamps—how embarrassing). So don’t think I begrudge anyone who chooses not to send Christmas cards—I don’t make a note of it in my ledger of Christmas cheer. Christmas is also not everyone's cup of tea. No card? No biggie.

Now, I’m hesitant to raise this issue, because obviously I like receiving Christmas cards and I don’t want to put people off, but there is ONE type of Christmas card I occasionally receive that makes me feel downcast. You may recognise it. On opening the card you see the printed greeting—Season’s Greetings! Or Merry Christmas! Or Happy Holidays!—with your own name written above, and their name written below.

That’s it.

This card does not bring joy. This card has all the appearance of a chore, and an aura to match. There’s enough to do in the lead-up to Christmas—if your heart’s not in card-writing, don’t torture yourself. It is totally fine to post a seasonal Facebook update these days, nobody minds. Or to do nothing at all (cf Christmas not being everyone's cup of tea). This is not Victorian England, nobody will ‘cut’ you at a ball because one didn’t receive one’s customary Christmas greetings. [1] Let yourself off the hook.

ALICE CANNON, MELBOURNE

[1] If they do, they are a cad and a bounder and probably also a wastrel.

Are they really? Really and truly sincere? Do you swear it? Swear it! (This is a hand-painted card so the greetings probably were reasonably sincere). [Christmas card to sister], watercolour on card, painted by Charlie Hammond over a photomechanical print,1946. State Library of Victoria, H90.72/42a.

Are they really? Really and truly sincere? Do you swear it? Swear it! (This is a hand-painted card so the greetings probably were reasonably sincere). [Christmas card to sister], watercolour on card, painted by Charlie Hammond over a photomechanical print,1946. State Library of Victoria, H90.72/42a.