Queer cards

‘Tis this time of the year again and, after trying to ignore the impending holidays for as long as I possibly could, I am finally starting to get myself into the mood. It does take a bit of effort, you know, some tricks I’ve acquired over the years. Like ordering the presents for the kids (’cause they are the only ones getting Christmas gifts in my family) online, thus dodging the insane crowds that are currently milling through our high street and malls. Like extreme-fast forwarding the bits of adverts where huge eyes staring out of starving African children’s faces are trying to blackmail you into parting with your hard-earned savings in the name of Christmassy generosity. Or like closing my eyes every now and then when walking through the streets to avoid bringing on an epileptic seizure induced by all those hectically flashing, multicoloured, oh-so-peaceful Christmas lights.

I suspect crafting is not exactly my strongest suit but I think I deserve brownie points for trying. Plus, the little monster really enjoyed running wild with scissors.

Other things that help me conjure up a Christmassy atmosphere are some old family traditions. Like crafting little things, or baking Christmas cookies. Especially with the little monster around now, these small pleasures do bring a bit of Christmas spirit to my commerce-weary soul.

Then there is the habit of writing a Christmas message or card to the most important people in our lives. I haven’t written any real cards myself in a while, mainly because email is so much faster, less hassle, less environmentally questionable and, oh yeah, cheaper. For special occasions I tend to send e-cards. Not the soppy ones with puppies and butterflies. I like the cute b-cards by German artist Chris Schlag.

Cards aplenty

They even have a section 'Suitable for terminal illness'!

I am digressing. Cards. Sending cards is HUGE in the UK. Much bigger than in Germany. Where I come from, I have never seen an entire store exclusively dedicated to greeting cards. Here, in our little town which has exactly one (1) cinema, there are actually double as many card shops. Wow! Not to mention the card aisles in the big supermarkets. Granted, they also offer a small collection of wrapping paper, ribbons and gift items like balloons or cuddly toys but by and large they are selling cards, gazillions of cards.

Unfortunately not a single one without a pre-printed message inside! What’s up with that?!

The other day I was looking for a birthday card for my granddad in Germany. He is one of the few people I know who doesn’t have internet so I thought I’d surprise him with an old-fashioned, snail mail greeting card from across the English Channel. Except he doesn’t understand English. And I didn’t fancy versing around a bog standard, run-of-the-mill text. So I ended up buying some coloured cardboard and making my own card instead. I am slowly but surely getting really good with that crafty stuff. I suppose I should thank the unimaginative card manufacturers who can’t conceive of people like me who are actually able and willing to come up with their own words. But I won’t be thankful.

Because here comes the most annoying thing about these instant cards: They are way too often sent exactly as is! I mean, if you don’t have the time to at least rudimentarily personalise my card I’d rather not get one at all, thank you very much. It’s like birthdays on facebook. Dozens of people leave messages on your wall but only a handful manages to write more than a slight variation of ‘Happy birthday, have a great day’. What’s the point?

Seriously, if I get one more Christmas card that doesn’t show any other signs of individualisation than ‘Love/xxx/All the best, [name]’ I will forget that I have put myself painstakingly into a Christmas mood and hate the holiday all over again! And then promptly discard the culprit.

PS: This one captures my pre-Christmas thoughts pretty neatly. Prominently featured: Writing Christmas cards 😉