have you moved with the times? Oh how I hate that expression. Why do we necessarily have to 'move with the times'?
This morning I have spent a couple of hours with an old friend in her late eighties. Tomorrow her son is driving up from London to collect her and take her over to her daughters on the other side of the country, where they will all spend Christmas together. Although she is going away she has still put up twinkling lights in the window and strung her Christmas cards around the room.
Apparently the sales and the sending of cards is falling gently. Three years ago eighty-four percent of people sent Christmas cards, last year it was only seventy-three percent. And Oxfam, always hot on the sale of cards at Christmas, calculates that we will send 141 million less cards this year than we did five years ago. Now one in five people think cards are no longer necessary and thirteen percent of those people send on-line cards instead.
Well here am I standing up to be counted and to say 'humbug' to on line cards and 'double humbug' to no cards at all. The only excuse I can think of to justify an online card is in blogland where mostly we don't know each other's addresses and where we do want to say 'Happy Christmas' - that kind of greeting is very welcome. But otherwise, what is wrong with a good old fashioned card put in an envelope and posted?
Yes - I do realise how expensive it has all become - taking into account the cost of the card and the cost of the stamp then it adds up to quite a tidy sum. But you can start early buying both cards and stamps and certainly in my case - and in my friends too - there is no substitute.
I have received cards from friends I have not seen for well over fifty years. The only time I hear from them is at Christmas. Sometimes one or the other has died during the year - it happened last year and it has happened again this year - and that is sad but at least I know about it. And there is usually a line to say they are well, or what the children or grandchildren are doing, or a little reminder of something we did together in the past.
Watching my old friend this morning pointing to cards and telling me about the people who had sent them, then coming home and fastening up my cards and being reminded of people I worked with long ago, people I lived near long ago - such lovely reminders and such warm feelings of friendship at Christmas.
Long live the Christmas card and the greetings it conveys. Nothing in this world is more important than friendship and the love it brings.