10 poignant pleas over Christmas cards

People buying Christmas cards

In response to a piece on the dilemmas people face about Christmas cards, Kate Hansford emailed with her 10-point guide to Christmas card etiquette.

The article pontificated over what to write in the card and anxiously considered what your friends would think if they realised you bought your cards in bulk. Hansford addresses a few more dilemmas.

1. Please don't just sign your Christmas cards with just your forename. Which "Anne"? "John" who?

2. Don't just drop the name of a discarded partner from your cards without an explanation. Years of "Jack and Jill", and then suddenly only "Jill". Did "Jack" die ("so sorry to hear... you must miss... wonderful times...") or "so glad you've finally seen through him"? And then don't suddenly add the name of the new partner and someone else - "Jill, George and Henry". Is Henry George's child? Has Jill's dad come to live with them? Or the cat? And who is George?

About the author

Kate Hansford apologises to anyone on her list who receives her card late. "If they don't get a card from me, it's not 'cos I'm dead, I've just run out of time (again) - so please tell them that Mother is now 96 and now in a really lovely Nursing Home, my arthritis is in remission, I had to have the old cat put down, and I think that Richard III should be buried in York Minster."

3. Add your address. You may have thought that you told me that you had moved, but either you forgot to post the card or it got lost in the post. If you haven't heard from me for three years after you've moved, and you are sure that you gave me your new address, shouldn't you at least inquire if I'm dead?

4. Please return the card marked "deceased", even if for a previous occupant. At least I will know. I spent years sending a card and lots of family updates to a relative who had moved to a nursing home because she had had a stroke and couldn't write, only to find out when I visited her in Scotland that she'd died years before.

5. Databases which print out address labels are a wonderful time-saver - but please do update them. "For the fifth year running, I remind you that I've divorced him."

6. Please put on the correct stamps. It's a long journey to the sorting office to pay good money to receive a card from "Anne" or "John", and "George" (whoever he is).

7. I love printed round robins - at least you can read them. People's handwriting deteriorates into illegibility after the first 50 cards.

8. If you are going to prune your Christmas card mailing list, please don't do it the year after a life-changing event looms. Did she die? Was he made redundant and is now living on the streets?

9. If I pour out my heart to you about the terrible time I am having, please don't send a card the next year with "glad to hear you are well". Or even worse, please don't prune me from your list.

10. Please send me a card. I like cards. I've reached the age when the grim reaper is decimating my list, so I depend on those still capable of writing, to remind me who I used to be.

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