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Real friends send real cards

Christmas in my student days was always marked by employment with the Royal Mail.

For most students it signified entry into the adult world of employment as a ‘casual’ postman and heralded the start of the Christmas season with the influx of Christmas cards sent by everyone to anyone, leaving me exhausted but financially secure by the twenty-fifth.

If you were lucky enough to get on the parcel lorry where you hopped on and off a furniture van as it toured the streets, delivering Christmas parcels to excited families, then you knew that that you had reached the top of the casuals in terms of status and could enjoy people’s delight in getting a parcel. And, for some reason, even the money was better.

Those days are long gone along with Royal Mail being privatised (should it still be Royal or just Mail?) and the custom of sending a Christmas card is now fast disappearing with the use of e-cards. ‘Wishing you a happy Christmas’ is the inspired and creative e-message along with a picture of a sprig of holly or a cartoon image of Father Christmas. ‘Missing you at Christmas’ (oh, yeah!) read one such email last year. Checking my emails is already the most tedious job that I go through each day. It is a cloud that hangs over me and to find an impersonal message from friend, relative or acquaintance wishing me happiness does nothing to improve my mood. It almost seems an insult that people cannot be bothered to go to the trouble of writing and posting a card. The combined email has probably taken about an hour at max and taken a split second to press the ‘send’ button to all family and friends.

Alongside this is the family history during the last year: ‘Jonny did really well in his GCSEs,’ (no mention of the grades!) ‘Lara is getting married in the spring,’ (no mention of an invite or that the baby is due in January!) and Bob has retired (we thought he had retired years ago, it’s just that nobody mentioned it to his employers).

Some people in the T&L office accuse me of being the reincarnation of Mr Scrooge, which is an exaggeration. I welcome the knock of the postman, delivering bundles of Christmas cards from close friends or people I have almost lost touch with. I don’t care what the design is, but I do care about the fact that somebody has gone to the trouble of writing the card in fountain pen, biro or charcoal and of finding a post box (while they still exist).

So happy Christmas to all T&L readers and get the kids busy designing and writing those wonderful Christmas messages and hanging all the REAL Christmas cards on a ribbon in the hall.

Tony Kane is founder of Time & Leisure Media Group and editor of the Wimbledon, Wandsworth and Putney editions of Time & Leisure Magazine.