Opinion

This is why Christmas cards are rubbish and shouldn’t still exist

Posted by
Mike Rampton
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Christmas cards are rubbish and shouldn't still exist 3

Flap, says the letterbox. Flump, says the envelope as it lands in the hallway. Oh, says the person who opens it and realises all they’ve got is a Christmas card, not something good like some cash or a Domino’s voucher. 

Christmas cards are rubbish. They’re a relic of a bygone era, and weren’t necessarily that great at the time anyway. They’re a mass-produced picture of some Christmas puddings, a generic printed message, a scrawled signature and a barely-meant kiss, and that’s all. 

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Why they should be binned

They’re not even a proper tradition
Commercial Christmas cards were invented in 1843, which means we’ve had 174 years of them. That might sound like a lot, but according to some extremely good maths it’s only 8.6% of Christmases. The Three Wise Men didn’t send Christmas cards. The inn that turned away Mary and Joseph didn’t have a mantlepiece covered in notelets showing snowmen doing funny dances and a rude joke about Santa’s sack. In the grand scheme of Christmases, cards are this new thing that might not even catch on.

It’s not out of the question that they’re a bit of a cynical cash-in
One of the inventors of the Christmas card, Sir Henry Cole, had been involved in the introduction of the Penny Post a few years earlier. Isn’t that at least a little bit dodgy? It definitely doesn’t make it seem like a project of goodwill to all men, so much as a way of a dude persuading people to use this money-making thing he’d just made. It worked, and Christmas cards became something of a craze (the past was boring), with thousands being sent in the first year alone.

There’s no need for them, as we live in the future
There’s this thing now, “the internet”, which is pretty cool. You can use it to send “electronic mail”, or “e-mail” to people, instantly, for free! Like, it’s fucking 2017. For a time, the Christmas card was a way of letting people know on an annual basis that you still knew they were alive, you just hadn’t been arsed to contact them about anything else. Birthday greetings on Facebook do that perfectly well, allowing you to pop up in someone’s life very briefly, make a special occasion feel even more special for them, then go back to not giving a shit until next year.

Christmas is killing the planet
Three-quarters of a billion cards are sent every year in Britain alone, and the fuck do they get recycled. They’re shoved in the bin with all the rest of the Christmas shit, and even the ones that do end up in the recycling have plasticky bits and glittery bits on them half the time. Then there’s the carbon footprint of transporting them all, sending millions of cards around the country and overseas. It’s huge and completely unnecessary. You know those idyllic snowy scenes depicted on a nice typical Christmas card? THEY DON’T HAPPEN IN REAL LIFE BECAUSE CHRISTMAS CARDS HAVE CAUSED GLOBAL WARMING. Every card you send causes at least one beautiful red-breasted robin to die hideously, coughing its lovely little guts up into its adorable beak and choking violently on them while crying (citation needed). 

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More reasons why they should be binned

They end up meaning nothing
Christmas cards are generally done in a big, semi-industrial stack. A big pile of cards, a big pile of envelopes, a list of everyone who your mum’ll tell you off if you forget and a can of Kronenbourg. It’s not a labour of love, it’s just labour. By the time you’ve signed your name on the twentieth one you might as well have the pen up your bottom for all the emotional investment you’re making. Nobody’s ever been planning to have a completely terrible Christmas, then opened a card, been told to have a merry one and changed their mind.

Putting things in postboxes is really scary
You know when you post something in a post box and walk away and go “OH FUCK” because you’re sure you accidentally posted your phone/wallet/keys at the same time as the thing you were posting? You know that thing? Right? Everyone gets it, yeah? That’s shit, that is. No need.

They’re already half-arsing it
You know how sometimes Christmas cards say “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year”? They’re onto something there. Bundling. They’ve put two well-wishes in one. It’s good, but it’s frustratingly short-sighted. If you take this idea and run with it, and edit your card it so it says “Merry Christmas and a happy new year and also a nice Christmas next year as well and happiness forever actually, plus birthdays” you don’t need to send the recipient another one ever.

They’re not as charitable as you’d think
It’s nice to feel like you’re making a difference, selecting cards produced by a charity, but often as little as 10% of the price of the cards actually goes there. On a £5 pack of cards, that’s 50p going to a good cause. That’s a bit shit, surely. Why not just give the charity the fiver, save yourself the cost of the stamps and send a few cheery emails out instead? Everyone wins - you get the same glow of doing something nice, the charity gets more money and you might end up actually entering into some sort of dialogue with the people you’ve contacted, rather than an annual cardboard obligation.

Christmas cards are rubbish and shouldn't still exist

There are exceptions to the rule, of course, but unless you fall into one of these groups:

  • Old people who can’t use the internet
  • People who have nice dogs and make their card a picture of the dog so you can put it on the fridge and pretend it’s your dog
  • Anyone sending cash
  • Domino’s

Then bah, bah humbug.

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Mike Rampton

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