Okay, fine, maybe I will send you a card
Deck the halls and whatever 🎶
Listen, I know how things sounded last time. But I don’t hate Christmas, I swear. I don’t even hate Christmas cards. In fact, I’ve sent some myself this year – three of ‘em! Pretty wild, right? What I take issue with is not the sending of cards, but the expectation that we will send them, and that if we don’t, we’re some kind of selfish, heartless wretch. Which I’m not! Honest! Look, let’s just say I was in a bad mood when I wrote that other post, which is half true. (I was in a contemplative mood, which is different but yields similar results.)
The thing is, I take issue with being expected to do literally anything. If you tell me to do something, even if I was already planning on doing it, I’ll turn around and be like, Nah, I’m good. I can’t help it! It’s an instinctive reaction that I cannot explain. I can reflect afterwards and think rationally about whether I really want to do this thing or not, but in the immediate moment my inner self will scream NO! You can’t make me!!! and then laugh maniacally to herself. And that means I’m not gonna do anything just because it’s tradition. I have an in-built aversion to tradition.
I hate sending cards if I’m not writing a heartfelt message in them. Or at least something funny. I wanna make you laugh or make you cry, otherwise why bother? That’s my motto. Actually, I don’t hate it. I just… nothing it? It feels pointless, and I don’t like spending my time on pointless things, unless it’s roaming around in Skyrim for 300 hours without progressing the main quest, and then it’s not pointless because it’s enjoyable. Ya know? Writing a heartfelt message is enjoyable. Writing ‘To [friend], from [me]’ is not enjoyable, especially if you’re doing it a hundred times. Not to me, anyway. Like hello, yes, you’re a person whose existence I am aware of, so please have this thick piece of paper with some glitter on it.
Conceptually, I understand other people like it. Light a candle, put on some festive tunes, and think about the ones you love as you tenderly address cards to them. Sounds charming. I could probably even persuade myself to be in the right mood for it if I tried. But I don’t know any of my friends’ addresses, and there’s no way I could possibly find out, so let’s move on.
I have other ways of showing my loved ones I care about them, although admittedly I’ve been pretty bad about that since Covid, but that’s because, uh, well… if you read this post, you’ll understand. But pre-pandemic, I always made a point to visit people every year, or at least catch up over a call. I don’t need to let my loved ones know I care with a Christmas card because I show it in ways that are, to me at least, more worthwhile. I know it’s not like it’s one or the other. I know that. My point is, my people know I care, even if I don’t send cards.
I’ll be real with you, I didn’t expect my last post to go off on the tangent it did, about my nan. I knew I was gonna mention it – I couldn’t not, since my primary association with Christmas cards is with her. And I dunno if it’s nature or nurture or what, but being treated like that my whole life, like I was a piece of garbage if I didn’t send a card, well, yeah, it may have contributed to my position on the matter. Like, why weren’t all the other ways I showed you I loved you enough? And didn’t it bother you that the only reason I sent you cards was to get you off my case? That’s the worst reason to get a card, isn’t it? Isn’t it?
By the time I got to the end of that post, it had taken a pretty melancholic turn. I haven’t re-read it since I published it, but I remember how it felt. I put myself in my nan’s shoes, and it felt bad. I remember thinking, It’s Christmas, surely I should end on a more positive note. Should I make this more saccharine? Should I wrap up with some poignant remark about how I have to go to the Post Office now, implying I suddenly feel an urge to send cards to all my loved ones? Tempting, but it would’ve been a lie, so… no. My stance didn’t change in the span of 1,500 words. I’d already made the ending as nice as I could, believe me.
Anyway, back to my original point: the message wasn’t supposed to be: you’re a goddamn idiot if you send Christmas cards. It was meant to be: there’s nothing wrong with you if you don’t, and it doesn’t make you a bad person. You don’t have to do things just because other people think you should. If you like sending cards, you don’t need me to tell you that that’s okay, because the whole of society not only already tells you it’s okay, but also that that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do. You’re good. Keep doing what you’re doing. Unless you decide you don’t want to any more, in which case please join me on the dark side. I’ll be waiting with your welcome pack of vuvuzelas and red lightsabers.
Christmas isn’t good for everyone, you know? Some people love it and all the cosy little traditions that go with it. That’s awesome. I understand. I also enjoy devouring leftover roast potatoes as I slosh Prosecco over the side of my glass and shout out the wrong answers during Trivial Pursuit. But it’s not like that for some folks.
I was dating this guy once who told me he was gonna spend Christmas by himself because his family lived so far away and he wasn’t particularly close to them anyway. And I was like, what? No! Come and spend it with my family. It’s no big deal, just me and a bunch of adults getting drunk on Baileys (surprisingly hard to accomplish, but rest assured, it can be done), poking at a cheese board for three hours, and shielding our eyes as my mother attempts some very questionable and dangerous Jenga moves before we move onto a safer game, like Twister.
We played Monopoly that year, and my date won. I was livid. If I hadn’t invited him, I would’ve won, damn it! I would’ve been the capitalist overlord! And he swung it at the last second through sheer luck! That’s not how capitalism works!!! You’ve got to go into it with evil intent, and you’ve got to strategise. Monopoly shouldn’t be determined through dice rolls. It should be determined by corruptibility and nepotism, and the money should be divided up randomly at the start to see who was born lucky. To add insult to injury, the guy broke up with me a few weeks later, which was particularly aggravating because I was using him to get over someone else and I wasn’t done yet. But I digress.
On the ‘how much do you love Christmas on a scale of 1–10’ front, I’m probably around… a 7? No, maybe a 6. Let’s say 6.5. I dunno. I enjoy Christmas. I can appreciate the festivities. I particularly like going up to the top floor of the bus and spying on all the magnificent trees in the windows of the rich folks in the city. I bet they’re all really good at Monopoly. How did you even get a 9-foot tree in there? Did anyone die while decorating it? What kind of ladder do you need to put the angel up there, and why is it always an angel and not a star? It’s enjoyable to ponder these things.
But I’m an adult now, and a minimalist, so a lot of the things I used to adore about Christmas, I don’t care about any more. Gifts? Well, sure, let me tell you these few specific things I was planning on buying for myself, and I’ll just be patient and wait until you give them to me instead. Still, better that than be gifted some random junk I don’t want just because someone feels obligated to get me something. Every gift I give comes with the caveat that if you don’t want it, you can get rid of it without guilt. I hope you do like it, and I tried to be thoughtful about it, but if you don’t want it, no worries. (Please look forward to my rant about Christmas gifts, coming December 2024.)
The morning after I sent my last newsletter, my friend messaged me about it and the first thing she said was, ‘You answered your own question: people send cards to make other people feel good.’ And I was like, yes, I know… that’s… was it not clear that I knew that? Like, the way I punctuated the final sentence with it and everything? Hmm. Well, that’s on me, I guess. Anyway, I hope she likes her card. I think she does.
Merry Christmas, everyone. Unless you hate it, or don’t celebrate it, in which case I hope you enjoy your random day off, and I’m sorry all the shops are closed.