lifestyle

The indisputable importance of Christmas cards.

Bring back the good old Christmas card.

Nothing says ‘I still have your address’ better than a Christmas Card. And I’m not talking the tightwad cop-out option known as an ‘E-Card’. When one of those pops in, I don’t even bother clicking the link, I just press ‘DELETE’.

You see, if you couldn’t be bothered to lick a stamp on my behalf I’m not easing your annual ‘I forgot to send Christmas Card guilt’ by acknowledging the receipt of your trite greeting. I don’t care if it is an animated elf with tinsel on his penis hoping ‘I find something nice under the tree this year’, I want to find something tangible in my box.

I want a card with your writing on it telling me that you can’t believe another year has gone, how old the kids are, who has teeth, who hasn’t, who can go to the toilet by themselves, who keeps missing the bowl in the night.

One of Mandy’s family’s many Christmas cards.

And don’t for an instant think you can include one of those nauseating group letters gloating about your year of triumph. ‘This year Mary graduated with first class honours in engineering, Doug got a wonderful promotion and I was absolutely flat out with the architect with the renovations’.

I want you to tell me something in writing. Your writing. And don’t just include your successes, throw in a few failures as well. ‘Well Mary got first class honours, but no wonder, the girl rang us for money every bloody week. As for Doug, I never see him. Did I tell you he sleeps in the other room now? He says its because he worries I’ll wake from his snoring. But I can’t help thinking his heart is elsewhere…Sure he’s bringing in more money, which I’m spending on the reno – but it’s just to fill in all that lonely time…and the architect is very handsome…’

Mandy’s hippy-themed Christmas card.

I don’t like those store bought cards either. The 20 in a box with Santa coming down the chimney on one side and Jesus in the manger on the other. If you are flat out for time, these will do, because at least they still can be hung on a string above the tree to show visitors how truly loved you really are. You can’t do that with an e-card.

For the past 20 years I have made all my cards by hand. It used to be a project I did with the kids. It was excruciating because none of the kids were as exacting as I am. They’d stick feathers where the buttons should go and end up eating the buttons. I always write an individual message in each of them. It took almost a month. Then it’s about $1 each to post. My cards are always heavier and bigger than most, I kept the staff at Australia Post gainfully employed checking the suspicious bulges for drugs finding – instead of cocaine – craft glue and glitter.

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Mandy’s Walking Dead-themed Christmas card.

Everyone tells me they look forward to my cards. I don’t want to boast, but my card makes the fridge. Every year. I don’t think it’s that exceptional, it’s just one of the only cards people get anymore. I don’t hand craft my cards anymore. I am far too busy. But I take a family photo and get a graphic designer to knock them up for me. And by family photo I don’t mean one of those hideous shots in white shirts sitting on the beach looking harmonious. Every family knows that’s a lie. No one is ‘that’ family.

I also detest the Shopping Mall Santa photo. It looks like evidence from a child protection case. No, I opt for a dysfunctional off the wall photo that represents the true nature of my brood. We have done Wizard of Oz – I got stuck with straw man and my middle daughter scored tin man.

She wasn’t particularly happy about wearing a funnel on her head, but her displeasure gave her the exact expression necessary for the character. We’ve done Hippy Christmas, A Very Bogan Christmas where all my teenage girls are pregnant smoking and drinking coldies, we’ve done a super camp Barbie and Ken Christmas, The nerdy Brady Bunch, Zombies aka The Walking Dead (possibly my favourite), and well this year, we’ve gone for a superhero theme, because after all, the world does need saving.

Mandy’s Barbie and Ken-themed Christmas card.

At first the kids used to hate it. They thought it was lame. Now they workshop the ideas. They help gather costumes and come up with poses for our photo shoot. It’s so much fun. It’s our very unique family’s unique Christmas tradition.

Last year I received three actual cards. Two of them were from local Real Estate Agents wanting to sell my house. The third was from an old Aunt who still slips me $20. I sent out 60 cards. You don’t need to be an auditor to work out the return rate is bloody woeful. Are we really that busy that we can’t take the time to send something small and special to the people we love?

I figured that if I only make the effort once a year, at least I’ve touched base – I’ve told old friends, cousins, colleagues, long lost relatives that they are still the people I hold dear.

Mandy’s 2015 Superhero-themed Christmas card.

You should think about doing this. After all, these are the people who will be turning up to your funeral, so if you want good numbers, you need to put the effort in now.

I don’t just want to be in your heart. I want to be on Your Fridge.

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