The decorations are back in their boxes, the tree has been recycled, the Christmas cards are all down and put into a bag, and now is the time to send them off to that great card repository in the sky - or wherever - in my case the recycling box at Tesco. To think that only a month ago we were all busy writing our cards and posting them, yet here they are discarded, like confetti after a wedding, just a nuisance and to be got rid of.
I put them in a bag this morning. Well, I started to put them in and then I started looking at them and reading the messages again and thinking about old friendships and old friends I haven't seen for many years and only ever hear from at Christmas. It took up an hour or two, but boy, did I go down memory lane.
Time was when all Christmas cards were rectangular, most had either a robin or a stage coach on the front, with a bit of snow and all were of the very poorest quality card, so that by Christmas morning they were leaning and wobbling like drunken toy soldiers. Every time anyone opened the front room door they would all topple over and my mother would sigh and stand them all up again propping them up against vases and the mantelpiece clock. The only ones which were sturdy and made of good quality card were the private ones which said things like "Mr and Mrs John Smith wish you the Compliments of the Season and hope you have a Happy and Prosperous New Year." We only ever had two or three of these and they always sat on the piano. "This is a bit of good card," father would say standing them four square and knowing that they wouldn't falter.
Cards only cost one penny to post in those days; that was if you just tucked the flap in rather than stick it down. If you stuck it down then it cost threepence but we always tucked the end in - we didn't care who read our cards and who would be interested anyway.
Over the years there has been a change - I was going to say a subtle change, but there is nothing subtle about it. First of all the card all got much better quality and the price rose accordingly. Then charity cards crept in. Suddenly "anything goes" became the norm - funny cards, rude cards, cards that played a carol when you opened them, good taste, bad taste, no taste at all - they were all there.
So, this morning I sorted them out and this is the result. Out of 100 cards:-
23 had glitter on them (lots!)
56 of them were charity cards.
5 were home-made.
10 had robins on them.
12 had snow (how long is it since we had a white Christmas? We still hope.)
14 were religious.
7 were Old Masters.
4 had holly on them.
2 had snowdrops.
And 1 (ta-da) still had a Stage Coach galloping through the snow. It was from our 90 year old aunt - a real piece of nostalgia.
I love Christmas cards. The e mail card and message will never take the place of a real card for me. I have moved around a bit and I get messages from all over the country, and a few from abroad and I love receiving every single one.
I think we will draw a veil over The Round Robins (no connection whatsoever with that perky, red-breasted bird synonymous with Christmas).
Goodbye cards as you plop into the recycling box. I have enjoyed your company for the past three weeks - see you all again another year in your recycled form.
The card we sent this year was one of the farmer's photographs - it sits at the top of this post - it has escaped recycling!