I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. (Charles Dickens)
The simplest solution to Christmas cards for busy people is the ecard. 3 or 4 clicks, type in a few email addresses, or even upload a csv file, and bingo – all your nearest dearest and those you feel obliged to remember have got a card. Personalised of course. But not all that personal.
Environmentally speaking ecards are better than traditional Christmas cards, but they are not sustainable. At least not sustainable if you bring community as well as carbon into the equation.
The wonderful site Generous demonstrates a commitment to sustainability that is as much about being responsible with your time and compassion as your consumption. Their seasonal actions suggest recycling cards, or making your own from old wrapping paper and cards from years gone by (but keep track so it doesn’t simply return to sender); but not sending ecards.
Homemade Christmas cards, or those from recycled card which are themselves recyclable or reusable is a better solution; particularly because the person receiving it knows you held it, signed it, addressed it and – unless you know you’re one of those they’re obliged to remember – wanted you to be remembered.
But what if you are simply too busy to send Christmas cards? here are a few suggestions:
1. Make a list of the people you really do want to send something personal to (it may only be short) and then make time. You can buy charity Christmas cards online (they’re mostly FSC rather than recycled, but it’s a start); or don’t worry about the card, make it a letter.
2. Write them while commuting – this is only really possible if you’re one of those people with the really long train journeys, where you get on so early you do get a seat…
3. Jot down what special message(s) you might write in each card while commuting – use your notes app on your mobile or scrawl across your freesheet.
4. Send a Christmas email. This is not the same as an ecard and make sure it doesn’t seem like it either. Use your commuting time to either draft it or write and send the real thing.
5. Phone people instead.
6. Save your ecards for the people you merely need to appease or pay lip service to, and in so doing make your list of things to do smaller…
7. Visit the Christian Solidarity Worldwide website and find out about people around the world for whom a card or a letter really does matter. It might prompt you to consider how busy you really are.
NB. I have a small pile of Christmas cards which I wrote, addressed and stamped last year but missed the posting date. This year I will not let myself be so negligent…. I will make time!