Last year someone I follow on Twitter tweeted that he thought it was unbearably smug to send Christmas emails instead of cards and donate the money to charity. It was someone I’ve followed and admired for years, and the comment stung.
I’ve been sending Christmas emails so long that I can’t remember when I started, possibly about 10 years ago. But I dislike smugness so I’ve been giving it some thought.
Why I send Christmas emails:
1. It seems wasteful to buy stacks of cards and envelopes that will at best be recycled, maybe thrown away.
2. Postage gets more and more expensive. I can contact far more people online than I could afford cards and stamps for. (I still send cards to older people who have never incorporated computers into their lives, and a few people I don’t have an email address for).
3. I don’t think any of the other people on my list particularly miss receiving a card from me. Some people still send me a card, others have stopped. Either is fine, whatever they wish to do.
4. I would rather support a charity with the money. Every year I consider which one to donate to, and it’s always been the same – Julian House in Bath, which supports the homeless. I can’t think of anything better at a time of year when the focus is so strongly on home and family.
What I write in Christmas emails
1. Just to be clear, I’m not talking about those round robins of family news, but a Christmas greeting sent online rather than in the post. I choose a suitably Christmassy picture, either one I’ve taken or, due to my negligible photography skills, a nice stock image, and write a Christmas greeting.
2. I make it as individual as possible by adding a personalised message to many, and sending them out separately, rather than a batch of blind copies.
3. Underneath I explain why I’m doing this, not to be smug, but because at first I was afraid people would think I was just mean! And I think it’s nice for them to know where the money’s going.
4. I’m really careful to find the right card for birthdays and other occasions during the rest of the year, which feels a lot more meaningful to me than sending a Christmas card just because it’s the custom.
Initially people probably thought I was weird, but after a few years I started getting replies saying that they thought it was a good idea, and some had decided to do the same themselves.
After thinking it through I still find all these reasons perfectly valid, and possibly more so with the passage of time. So this year I’ll be sending my Christmas emails again. If anyone thinks that’s smug I can live with it!
(Photos by Annie Spratt on Unsplash)