It’s supposed to be something nice to do at this time of year, writing Christmas cards with small children to give to their equally small friends to wish their little selves all the best for the festive season, yet my inner voice is screaming “abort! abort!” within seconds of the boring task.
It’s taboo, I get it. But I’m telling you that no good can come from children writing out Christmas cards, well not much anyway. This is a topic I have a lot of experience in, as a teacher I’ve watched hundreds, if not thousands of Christmas cards exchanged between young children over the years and I can tolerate others participating in this ritual. But now that my own children do it, I’m ready to put an end to the madness.
Last night I
tortured myself sat down with my six year old to help him lovingly write some Christmas cards for his friends. Of course he has to do it for the whole class, awesome! I wrote out the list of names clearly for him so that he could ignore what I’d written and write all of their names phonetically. I asked what beautiful festive message he was going to write, he didn’t answer but continued to write with an eagerness he usually reserves for wrestling.
His cards lacked originality, “To (incorrectly spelt name) from Flynn”. That’s it. A tree lost it’s life for that. With the exception of some delightful messages from more patient children, mostly girls, Flynn pretty much followed the pattern of the cards he had received. To Name, From Name. Sometimes there’s not even a name, obviously fatigue had set in.
If you think I’m crazy, that’s fine. I know there’s going to be a group of parents who insist that the children love it, it teaches them about giving and it makes people feel good. I can argue everything on the fact that 90% of the time CHILDREN DON’T READ THE CARDS THEY ARE GIVEN! There, I said it. Wow, that feels better. Very young children and older children are the ones who read them, well the first few they get anyway. The in the middle ones don’t bother. It’s just about getting that card in their hot little hand and then moving on with their day. Obviously there’s exceptions, blah blah, but I consider Christmas cards a waste of good paper.
A few years ago I noticed that the cards weren’t as popular, people became alerted through environmental awareness that these cards weren’t really a great use of resources. Seriously, we scrimp on paper all year and demand that children not waste the precious stuff but at Christmas we let them go nuts. I don’t think even Jesus would want us to kill trees for his birthday, especially for four poorly written words. So instead children chose to give a small festive treat to their friends instead, introducing… the candy cane. These cheap, tasteless little sticks of sugar can be bought in bulk for next to nothing which could be an indication of what’s in them. What a treat.
But then, something even more crazy happened. Children decided to revive the cards AND smack a candy cane on the front with half a metre of sticky tape. Genius. So now when children get a card, they rip that sugar stick off faster than you can say “Merry Christmas” and fill their already Christmas spirit filled, over enthusiastic little bodies with a super artificial, sugar filled delight.
I was initially excited to start the ritual of giving cards to school friends when my eldest had his first year of primary school. We picked the cards, wrote our list of names from the school photo and got all prepared, but that’s where the fun stopped. You see my son had an obsession with Christmas, like an all year long thing, you can read more about that here.
Every single card took hours. Each had a perfectly hand drawn picture, and if he made a mistake he’d start over. Torture. This went on for days until he declared he couldn’t go on, he’d had enough and he didn’t want to do the stinking things anyway. A packet of cheap cards wasted and possibly a year of my life. It was horrible and I swore never to go back to that, declaring that the environment should be the winner at Christmas time.
Everyone believed me until this year when my middle son insisted that he wanted to give the horrid things to his friends for his first year of school. I reluctantly agreed, but I refuse to give out candy canes. I imitated a tree screaming and asked if he thought it was really worth it. He did.
We got them done and he’s given them to his friends. Phew!
This afternoon I asked him how it all went, the whole giving out lame cards to tiny friends who get thousands of other cards every day. “One of my friends said it filled her heart” was his response. “She said it was so kind and I loved it”. Geez. That’s annoying.
So it looks like Christmas card writing may have some benefits. I’m still supporting the trees, and I’ve got a whole year to work on my tree cry. In the meantime, if someone invents some other paper-free Christmas Card for kids, please let me know before next December.