Now is that time of year when I consider doing something morally dubious. I start to think about writing some Christmas cards.
I’m not sure exactly when making a charitable donation and giving Christmas cards became ethical opposites, but I do both and it makes me feel sad.
It’s false, of course; in the heady rush of festive consumption, a handful of cards is but a drop in the ocean, a financial and environmental footnote. Is the real issue actually the fact that writing cards is a bit of a bind? In these busy days, is it easier to give money than time?
And are cards even relevant in today’s super-networked digital age? Well I think so, yes. A flash of colour, a quiet space, a personal good wish. These small physical tokens bring joy and reconnection into our homes at a time of celebration and reflection. Writing cards means slowing down, clearing a tiny bit of headspace for those around us.
So here’s an idea: Why not make a gift to charity or invest in a creative start-up AND send some Christmas cards?
If you’ve time and talent (and if you work in the arts), get creative; make a card, even a digital one. If you have neither, a handwritten card is still a treat. Pick an image that speaks to you, or to the recipient. Make it personal. Perhaps consider sending a card to someone you don’t even know – someone in prison, in a hostel for homeless people, or a residential home.
The price of a card, a moment’s time, a personal connection. Are these actually our century’s scarcest and most valuable gifts?
Right, I’d better get those cards written. Just don’t tell the ethics police.