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Christmas cards

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In my almost ten years as a blogger, I have tackled many tough issues. I have written without fear or favour about climate change, population growth and government debt to name just a few hot topics. I have even had the audacity to pan wearable technology, criticise government regulation and defend bank bailouts.

But this week I may have bitten off more than I can chew. Today, it is with some trepidation that I raise my head above the parapet and proclaim that I dislike electronic Christmas cards. Phew - I said it! I think that e-cards are adding to the impersonal nature of our digital society.

Now I know that this is a very sensitive subject and those who no longer send traditional greeting cards may be offended. But hey, it’s the season of goodwill, so let me explain my position before you cross me off your Christmas card list.

I am the first to acknowledge that it’s time-consuming to buy Christmas cards, stuff them in envelopes and then address and mail them. But I really think it’s worth the effort. A hand-written greeting in each card helps you to truly connect with family, friends and business associates.

I also acknowledge that buying and posting cards comes at a cost. But surely, we are not all going to behave like Ebenezer Scrooge? I believe that the small expense is overshadowed by the joy a recipient receives when your annual greeting arrives in their letter box. How do you put a value on that?

Trying to transmit good cheer in a generic e-card via a group email just doesn’t work for me. Christmas is not a virtual event - it’s about human contact and it’s hard for a digital device to replicate the tactile experience that comes with opening, holding and reading a paper card.

I don’t accept the argument that e-cards are an important green initiative that will help save the planet. Being environmentally friendly is one thing, but the need to be people friendly should be first and foremost in our minds during the season of goodwill to all.

Even though I am an avid user of technology, I remain unconvinced that the true spirit of Christmas can be spread to loved ones via social media. However, I accept that sites like Facebook are replete with online friends who rarely or never meet. So, an e-message may suffice for these superficial relationships.

During December, I proudly display the Christmas cards I receive as CEO of Gateway. However, as each year passes, I receive fewer and fewer cards. So, either people like me less or the diminishing number of paper cards that I receive is due to the corresponding rise in the number of e-cards in my inbox.

In an attempt to repair some of the damage my attitude to e-cards may have caused, let me introduce you to Sir Henry Cole. He’s to blame for the whole Christmas card tradition which he started in the UK in 1843. It’s his fault that people like me are hooked on the humble Christmas card.

To be clear, I have family whom I love dearly who send me e-cards. I also have business associates I greatly respect who send me e-cards. My rant about the impersonal nature of e-cards is not directed personally at them but at the growing trend for society to discard traditions that have served us well.

For me, writing Christmas cards - and cards for other celebratory occasions - is not sentimental drudgery. Yes, younger people in particular may see it as nostalgic, but I remain happy to lick a stamp rather than click a button. At least I know that my cards won’t end up in someone’s electronic junk folder.

Paul J. Thomas, CEO


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CEO Paul Thomas