The greeting card industry in the UK remains massive, with more than 900 million cards worth a mammoth £1.7 billion ($2.3 billion) exchanged each year according to the most recent figures available, so it is extraordinary that it is so hard to find just one that I’d like to send a friend for Christmas.
A simple, traditional Christmas card. Maybe with three kings on it, following a star. Or even Mary and Joseph on a donkey. Something old fashioned, something that refers back to the story behind the first Christmas and maybe offers a pause for reflection.
Not something that offers the greeting “Merry Christmas Poo Face.” And I have no need for a card that sends the season’s greetings to “My Two Dads” or appropriately, “My Two Mums.” I’m not looking to virtue signal, convert anyone or insult people. I just don’t want a card that is Scandi-bland, someone else’s idea of ‘funny’ or unnecessarily crass.
It is not as easy as it sounds. And while browsing for something not too off and not too square, you run the gamut of what has become the “humourous card” industry. How I loathe this genre.
And it seems I am not alone. Award-winning poet Lemn Sissay, who was brought up in the British care system, objected to a card making fun of orphans that was sold by UK store Paperchase. Following outcry and Sissay’s intervention, the stationer removed it from sale across its 160 stores and online while issuing a grovelling apology. So that’s a positive start.
Now, where to next? If all it needs is a couple of complaints to the retailers responsible for ‘funny’ cards to be removed from the shelves, I should be busier than Santa’s elves in the days ahead.
I will need a physical address for c**tgifts.com. On this oh-so-awful site you can buy your mum a card with a caricature of Santa pointing his finger at the reader and declaring, “You are a c**t!” Charming.
Hats off, however, for effort, because among their expansive but single-themed range they do have a card featuring a nativity scene although the gesture is somewhat spoiled by the message, “For Christs [sic] sake stop being such a moody c**t. It’s his birthday.” While it is needlessly obscene and unfunny to anyone over the age of 12, they have also committed the crass offence of missing 50 percent of the requisite apostrophes.
However, the bigger disappointment in the deluge of trashy cards that accompanies the general dumbing down of one of Christianity’s great celebrations is how there seems to be no limit to how low we can go and how few people are prepared to mount a defence in the name of tradition.
While ‘Merry Christmas’ has been the standard season’s greeting for centuries and conjures up images of stockings by the fire, mince pies and devout carol-singing, it is now very obviously on the way out as a simple exchange of well-wishing.
That salutation, thanks to the warriors of woke on their identity crusade, is now loaded with assumptions about religion, ideology, gender, age and geography, making it problematic for the pearl-clutchers of this world who frown upon ‘Merry Christmas’ as an expression of religious patriarchy.
Instead, and in the push to erase any lingering spirituality from our enjoyment of the festive season, it has been replaced with the non-committal, achingly inclusive ‘Happy Holidays’ and the accompanying dead-eyed smile that conjures up what? C**tgifts?
Even this year. Arguably the worst year of all time and still, people feel no need to reflect, to sit quietly for a minute and to ask themselves, is this what life is about? A lame-joke cracker, a litre bottle of Baileys and yet another repeat of Die Hard?
When the Queen sits down and shows off her sideboard of family photos while trying to lift the national mood on Christmas Day, we should remember that not only is she our beloved head of state, she is also the head of the Church of England. For those who haven’t been paying attention, it’s the state-backed religious denomination of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Sure, there are plenty of alternatives in the UK and many Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and Pagans celebrate Christmas alongside Christians, handpicking the bits they like, such as shopping, presents, turkey and family gatherings, while taking a pass on shepherds in a manger adoring an infant in a crib and yawning their way through a carol service.
And that is absolutely fine. Even better than fine. The UK has a wide spread of interests these days but certainly the majority, whatever religious denomination they be, appreciate a Christmas break and the fundamental ideas of gift-giving and family gatherings.
If we could just acknowledge the Christian backstory along with these more modern traditions – which don’t include ‘Black Monday’ sales or missed delivery cards from Amazon – then those of us who don’t buy that the run-up to Christmas starts at the end of August might feel a little less like we are losing something important.
Think of it as an early Christmas present. It’s preferable to a card from C**tgifts.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
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