There are two boxes of Christmas cards on my desk. There have been two boxes of cards there for a week or so, to be honest, part of the clutter that reduces the working area on my nice large desk to something not much wider than my keyboard. The cards have been nagging me for the past ten days, niggling at me every time I think I can stop and relax for a moment.
For those of you thinking but I’ve already had a Christmas card from you, I’m not talking about my friends and family cards: I’m not allowed to do those, or at least that’s the story I tell people. The truth is that Becky takes care of them, just needing to be fed the occasional mug of mulled wine in encouragement. She comes home in early December with several packs of different card designs, then works through her randomly sorted mental list of recipients. She consults the oracle of addresses for those members of my family that seem to move house on an annual basis, and makes sure that recent additions to growing families are properly accounted for.
She even gets all this done in time to send the cards out using second class stamps.
I don’t think I’ve ever managed to send Christmas cards second class.
It’s a crazy, haphazard scheme. Much pondering is involved as she chooses just the right card from the hierarchy of choices for each recipient. Typically, she is a couple of cards short and there is a quick dash to the shops for the last few she needs. One year, I suggested getting label sheets for the printer and creating a Word mail merge for all the addresses, but this resulted in a look of scorn I’d not seen since the time I floated the idea of opening presents before lunch on Christmas Day.
I’m left to fend for myself for cards to colleagues at work, and I take this responsibility seriously. I make a list, grouped by office. I work out exactly how many I’ll need, allowing an extra 15% for mistakes and for anyone who sends me a card when I hadn’t sent one to them. I buy cards of more or less the same design so that I can just pick the next one from the pile regardless of recipient. All carefully planned.
Except my cards are still in the boxes next to me, niggling me. And Becky’s are in the post, second class stamp on the outside, or even sat in other people’s houses on shelves, mantlepieces or in those weird, tree-shaped card holders.
Every year it’s the same. Some time in early November, I decide that this is the year I’m going to be organised. I’m going to get my cards before December, write them all in the first few days of the month, and then stun all around when mine is one of the first cards they receive. Except it doesn’t work out that way. Ever.
This year, it was beginning to get me down until I changed my perspective on the matter this morning. It’s December 19th, and even Champion the Wonder Postman isn’t going to get these cards to our offices across the UK until Monday. Most of the people I want to send cards to will have broken up for Christmas by then. A card that arrives after a person has finished for Christmas is just as bad as one that arrives between Christmas and New Year, left to sit unopened until January, never likely to see a shelf, mantlepiece or weird, tree-shaped card holder. It may see daylight for just a few fleeting moments before ending up in the recycling bin.
So instead of seeing myself as being late with this year’s cards, I choose instead to view myself as being well prepared for next Christmas. I may even write the cards tonight, just to get even further ahead of the competition.
And if you work with me and you’re wondering why you’ve not had a card from me this year, well I guess you now know.