Taking down this year’s smattering of Christmas cards, I was reflecting on yet another cultural difference I’ve discovered since leaving the Estuary climes of south-east England.

When I was growing up, Christmas cards were something you bought in bulk from Marks and Spencer (if you were classy) or Tesco (if you weren’t), given some sort of generic message implying that you knew the recipient, and posted off the day after the Royal Mail’s Last Posting Date Before Christmas. With a cheerful festive postage stamp. Cards would trickle in a few days before until a few days after Christmas, with the exception of the one that came in mid-January.

Recurrent themes: snow, robins, Father Christmas, reindeer, snowmen, and the occasional appearance of the Reason for the Season, usually surrounded by snow. Sometimes they were glittery, and the glitter fell out of the envelope onto the carpet. Just occasionally they were tasteful and attractive, but those were the exception and usually depicted poinsettia.


Me: A Portrait in Winter

So it’s only recently that a new breed of Christmas card has been multiplying among my increasingly large pool of married-friends-with-kids – the Family Photo Christmas Card.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. Some of them are tastefully shot and put together; less is more, entertaining poses, etc. Some of them are even ironic. But then some do start to look like commercial flyers for a feature film Christmas With The…. [insert name here]. Perhaps some people have so many friends that they don’t want to burden someone with the bother of wondering, “… the Smiths, the Smiths… do I know any Smiths….?” when they open a traditionally gaudy but generic card.

Perhaps these are simply a more effective way of displaying how popular you are to any stray guests. In the past, we only had a person’s word for it that their proud collection of Christmas cards were indeed all from different people, and from the same year. Here, however, is indisputable evidence, not only that you have friends, but that they are all recognizably contemporary.

Marco, it must be said, loves this phenomenon, so in Christmases to come, you’ll undoubtedly be sticking large pictures of our faces on your mantel or refrigerator or wherever you proudly display your social life in the festive season.

Categories: Christina's posts
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