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Happy Christmas, what’s your name?



I don’t know why writing Christmas cards makes me feel so gloomily apprehensive. I mean, it’s a simple task, isn’t it? You have a list of people, a box of cards, hopefully a working pen, and off you go. An hour later, maybe an hour and a half, tops, and you’re down at the post office buying stamps on an industrial scale (the price of which can be a bit of a jaw-dropper, I admit) but your faraway relatives are worth it, aren’t they? And then it’s all over and you can go home for a cup of tea and a Viennese fancy.

Only it never works like that. Not for me, anyway. Ok, so I have the list. I made it seven years ago, so that I didn’t have to spend ages going through my address book and separating card people from non card people. Do you send a card to that guy you used to work with, even though you haven’t seen him for three years? And if you do send it, do you put your surname in brackets afterwards, just in case he wonders who on earth you are? At what point do card people become non card ones?

The list worked brilliantly. For a while. I made it by collecting all the cards people had sent us one Christmas and compiling their names. This would solve the problem, I felt. And the next year, it did. Except that I hadn’t got the addresses for all of them. So I spent half my time writing cards, and a frazzling hour with my mother going through her address book (which she bought in 1972) and saying every page or so, ‘Oh, but he’s dead,’ or ‘Och, him. He became a nipple tassle salesman in Dumfries’, or ‘Did you mean Auntie Maggie with the camel fetish, or Auntie Maggie who went to live in Vancouver?’

Of course, as time has gone on, my list has gone the way of my mother’s address book. People have dropped off it. And new people have to be put on it. But their names are all in odd little places, and I haven’t been as efficient as I should have been, and oh hell, I know I put Jimmy and Miranda’s address down somewhere…


And then, even when you’ve written all your cards, you have (if don’t want to mortgage your children) to divide them into airmail, Royal Mail, scout post, and delivering by hand. First two; fine. Except that they entail going to the post office (and although I love my village post office, there is always somebody in front of me who wants to ask about the different ways of sending parcels of jam to Ormskirk, or Boggle Hole or Kirby Muxloe). And believe me, the Royal Mail have more ways of sending things than are dreamt of in your philsophy; First Class, Second Class, Sameday, Special Delivery – and is it a large letter or a small parcel with a wide option, (or even a deep option). Or just a medium parcel. And do you want a side order of chips with that? Oh, sorry, where was I?


With Scout post, you have to get to Oxfam or Sainsbury by a certain date, entrust your cards to a pair of earnest boys in woggles, and hope that all your addresses are within their remit. If not, back to the post office. Delivering by hand; that should give you a nice warm feeling, shouldn’t it? Festive trudging through the village, trees twinkling in the windows, church bells ringing, but no, because, obviously you’ve left it until Christmas Eve, there are a million and one things to do at home, and why didn’t you just shove the lot through the post? Why not indeed?

One year I decided not to bother. Nobody would notice, I thought. And, it would be one less thing to worry about. But as the days went along, and more and more cards arrived I began to feel more and more uncomfortable. People had made the effort to tell me they were thinking of me (even if it was only for a moment), and I hadn’t returned the favour. Even though I was thinking of them. And even with all the bother, I missed it. I missed having my mother tutting at me for leaving everything to the last moment (well, maybe not so much the tutting), and I missed making people feel I’d made an effort.

So, now I always send cards. I send them late (occasionally) I put the wrong address on them (blame my mother). Sometimes I get the names wrong (I’m thinking of the card I sent to a guy I used to work with – I got his wife’s name completely wrong. So wrong in fact, she accused him of having an affair. They’re divorced now.)

But, hey, I send cards.


About elainecanham

I started blogging because I'm a writer, and I thought I ought to. Now I realise that I blog because I lwant to; even when I can't think of much to say. I do a lot of work for local businesses - get in touch if you like my style.


16 thoughts on “Happy Christmas, what’s your name?

  1. Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for the New Year! With love Maxima

    Posted by Maxima | December 23, 2013, 9:21 pm
  2. I’m as familiar as you are with the whole Christmas Card dilemma – to send or not to send; the guilt… the guilt…! You might well worry about me, but I keep a 5-year list of cards sent and received. But worst of all, I’m a paper-crafter, soI make all my own cards – starting around August, as the sun beats down and dinner is peeled off the barbecue.

    Posted by Jools | December 16, 2013, 6:30 pm
    • so how many have you made?

      Posted by elainecanham | December 16, 2013, 6:37 pm
    • This year, 45 for me and another 25 or so for a hospice shop. Sounds like a bit of an assembly line, but it isn’t if you start early enough. I always make a few extra special ones for close friends and family too. But it’s never a chore. If it was, I’d buy them and swallow the ridicule!

      Posted by Jools | December 16, 2013, 7:18 pm
  3. I certainly hope I am on your Christmas card list. Surely you didn’t misplace MY address. I have to be honest I haven’t sent a Christmas card for years. I do feel slightly guilty when cards show up at my house, but usually a phone call will suffice. Anyway, thanks for this, you crack me up. Merry Christmas Elaine . . . what’s a Viennese Fancy? Is it anything to do with the nipple tassle man?

    Posted by librarylady | December 16, 2013, 4:39 am
    • Of course you’re on my list; I just can’t find the list. A Viennese Fancy is a biscuit. It’s two pieces of thin shortbread sandwiched together with chocolate. It’s heavenly with a cup of tea and I’m Sorry I haven’t A Clue on Radio 4. The nipple tassle man can get his own fancy pieces. Happy Christmas, Geanie.

      Posted by elainecanham | December 16, 2013, 10:04 am
  4. I’m sure this latest post struck a cord with 99% of the people who read it, I know it did with me!

    Posted by echoesofthepen | December 15, 2013, 10:28 pm
  5. Hey Ho, I figure I’ll have paid off this years stamps by mid 2015. Next year I’ll just have to start to eat less to pay for that lot or buy feathers and do the air mail drops myself. What’s that you say Icarus?
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx Nice Post.xxx

    Posted by davidprosser | December 15, 2013, 9:07 pm
    • Thanks, David. Glad you liked it. I thought I’d finished with cards today, and then I realised all the people I’d forgotten. Hey ho.

      Posted by elainecanham | December 15, 2013, 9:32 pm
  6. It’s easier not to have friends. At least that’s what my Uncle Scrooge told me. A delightful posting!

    Posted by Bruce Goodman | December 15, 2013, 8:15 pm
  7. Oh, funny. This is how my card writing would go, if I wrote cards. I never started, so no one expects it of me. Whew. I lucked out there 🙂

    Posted by jennifer Windram | December 15, 2013, 8:15 pm
    • You certainly did. Maybe if I’d never started, I wouldn’t have felt so bad about stopping….no, what I am saying? I think I’ve written too many cards…thanks for reading.

      Posted by elainecanham | December 15, 2013, 8:42 pm

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