Wednesday, 28 November 2012

In which I address the Christmas cards

Over the weekend, I sat down at the dining table to write this year’s Christmas cards.

Some people seem to find writing cards to be one of the more onerous Christmas chores, but I love it. The ritual of seeking out the right cards (they must be aesthetically pleasing, and suitably festive, with just a faint religious overtone; and without animals in Santa hats); looking out and updating last year’s list; and sitting down with a good pen (crucial for non-spidery scrawl) to write what is, to some of the recipients, the annual and only correspondence that we share.

But, amidst the annual shower of glitter which inexplicably ends up everywhere once the cards are out of the box, this year brought a couple of previously-unconsidered concerns.

The first slight pause I found myself at came after signing my name at the bottom of the first card.

“Huh,” I stopped and sat up. The Writer looked at me from the sofa where he was battling with a book of essays.


“Well, I. Hmm. I suppose these should probably come from us both this year, shouldn’t they?”

For the first time at Christmas, I find myself not only in a long-term and functional (hurrah!) relationship, but one in which I’m (gulp) living with a boy. And whilst I’m absolutely fine with us living in the same place, sharing almost every element of life, whether that’s tea and films on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon, or one of us not being able to sleep and keeping the other awake for nights on end, the daft and miniscule act of putting both our names at the bottom of a bit of card somehow makes me feel rather grown-up, and frankly a bit fraudulent.

Minor existential crisis was averted when I decided that, actually, it just made sense to split the cards down the lines of life: if the recipients are friends of the both of us, the card was signed by us both. For friends and family who haven’t met TW, or don’t know him well, I had all the space in the world for just my own little scrawl.

But my second sticking point was less easily solved. If you’re in the (yes, admittedly tiny. And yes, I should probably just get over it) section of the Venn diagram where “stickler for form” and “feminist” collide, addressing the Christmas card envelopes becomes something of a quandary.

Because sending cards addressed to the husband is fine if he’s the friend, but to send to a girlfriend under her husband’s name seems just a bit… well, patriarchal, frankly, if not a little rude. Why should something be addressed to him if really, in all honesty, she’s probably the one I’m sending it to? And obviously the answer is “because that’s how things are done”, but still. It grates, just ever so slightly. And the apparently practical solution of addressing it to both and putting lots of initials on the envelope would be fine, if it weren’t so aesthetically cluttered and displeasing.

With nearly 40 cards written, and a stack yet to do, I’ve not yet found a totally satisfactory solution to something which I’m almost certain is the very definition of a First World Problem. Still, I have enough glitter to last me until I have to face the problem next year, so at least I can wallow in sparkles whilst I ponder it.


Sprinkled Words (former Miss Milk) said...

Under the husband's name?! That's a bit of etiquette I'm glad hasn't filtered down to the colonies (to my knowledge)... address it to her!

nuttycow said...

It's a etiquette minefield, isn't it. I tend to address it to my friend (if I'm only friends with one of them) but then inside the card it's addressed to both of them (plus sprogs if applicable).

I remember the first time I signed a card from N and I. Very weird, you're right. But somehow lovely.

crazykites said...

Do you mean when you address the card to "Mr and Mrs J Bloggs?" I think I know what you mean. I'd only address it to your friend only and have his name inside the card. It does seem a bit crazy when in many countries, they don't even adopt the husband's name at all. I like form and tradition but there's sufficient rebel in me to change the rules when the time feels right.

annewalker said...

How about address the card to her and yet as the closing remarks put the greetings to her husband and family as well? That's what I usually do.

Anne Walker
Christmas Card Messages

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