Mary Kenny: Auld acquaintance time
Christmas gathers families together - but cards are about maintaining friends
Christmas is supposed to be about families - and of course it is. But it should also be about friends and friendship. The nice thing about all those Christmas cards - from the impressive and tasteful to the glittery and gaudy - is that they express friendliness, and often a desire to keep friendships alive.
I like the newsy ones best - I don't even mind enclosed 'round robins', which some people mock: those newsletters with a full account of all the wonderful achievements attained during the year. What failures, what embarrassments lie behind the happy lines about violin exams passed and weddings delayed or deferred? But news is news. The Christmas card which just says "Love, Jane" is the least satisfying, because it informs you least about Jane's life, and you might not even know which Jane is involved. But even so, Jane has taken the trouble to buy a card, address it, put a stamp on it and post it.
Etiquette arbitrators are sometimes quizzed as to whether email Christmas "cards" are as acceptable as real ones, and I believe the answer is "yes". Any connection which wishes you well is pleasing. And some of these electronic cards are amusing and decorous, and even play a tune. I've had lovely e-cards, and I've sent them too. Sometimes e-card replacements are in a good cause - our family solicitors this year announced they're sending e-cards and giving the money saved to a homeless charity.