IAN HART: Will Christmas cards be consigned to history?
When Sir Henry Cole, with the help of his friend artist John Horsley, produced the first Christmas card back in 1843, he probably couldn't have comprehended back then that his idea would evolve into a multi-million pound industry year in, year out.
But history itself tells us that things come and go and fashions and habits change. Could we eventually see the disappearance of the traditional Christmas card as we know it?
Every year I can safely predict the first card to drop on the mat at Chez Hart, a friend from the Findon area, whose cards are legendary as they are custom made and contain not only the traditional message but very entertaining photographs from his extensive travels around the globe.
But in the same week of its arrival, three close friends got in touch to say they wouldn’t sending cards this year, instead making a donation to charity.
This is not the first time I’ve heard this idea. I first heard it mooted over a decade ago by youngsters at Thomas A Becket Middle School, who suggested they collectively pool their money and send it all to Chestnut Tree House instead.
It is almost a sentimental dilemma. Personally, to a degree, the sending of cards is a age-old tradition which encapsulates the spirit of Christmas. However, the rise and ongoing development of social media means we have lots of different ways of interaction – would anyone get as many cards as Facebook messages on their birthday?
Returning to the festive season, as more and more people go down the charity donation route, all of us will receive and send fewer cards every year.
Will we stop sending them all together? I hope not. As for this year, I’ve compromised. I’m sending some cards out, but not as many as usual. And with a nod to the former pupils at TAB, I’ve also paid for an hour’s running costs at Chestnut Tree House. So if you’re reading this and I haven’t sent you a card, at least you know a very worthy cause has benefited from the money saved.
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