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Our homemade cards

What do you do in London here when you want to be polite but not too involved?  You just send a card. There is a card for every possible opportunity. Over here, you can find Christmas cards, Easter cards, Happy Valentine cards, I-am-sorry-you-are-leaving-cards, Thank You cards, Bar Mitzvah cards, Birthdays cards, Baptism cards, Wedding cards and I am sure that I am forgetting most of them…
 In France, we don’t have such a culture of sending cards at every possible opportunity. If you care for someone, you just talk to this person. Or you call. Or you send a real letter – or, as times have changed, an email, but a personalised one. The only formal occasion when you are required to send a card would be at the start of a year (French don’t do Christmas cards, we do Happy-New-Year cards). Initially, I thought that this habit of sending cards was nice. Now I am not so sure. You can be awful to someone and then send some I-am-sorry card. To make matters even worse, it is not necessary to write anything in the card.  You just have to sign and send. You can add a few words -usually something as vague as “you are a very special person”, and it should do the trick. Surely if you care about the person you are sending a card to, you would try to make more of an effort? Come to think of it, maybe that’s the whole point: you don’t send a card to people you really care about, do you?
Over time, I grew tired of cards. I believe that most of the cards I have received were some hypocritical excuses of pretending that the senders cared about me or my family. It was given to me to avoid a conversation, or a more direct contact, or simply because it was polite and they didn’t know what to say. Most of them finished in the bin. That said, I have kept a few, because they were genuinely nice and referred to something I could actually relate to. Usually, I have to force myself to reply to cards. I know that it is supposed to be polite, but I can’t help thinking that I am just perpetuating a tradition I don’t like.
 Sending cards over here can be an art. It is all about finding the right card (you can’t send a happy birthday card when you meant to send a Christmas card), and having something “witty” to say (I think that this is to relationships what McDonald’s is to haute cuisine).
So, where did it all go wrong? When did we start to box relationships into cards? I am trying to design my own cards and write something personal in them, but, more often than not, my efforts are unnoticed.
How did we let this happen?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London
  • I agree it is a sad state of affairs. I would always rather receive a few words carefully crafted by the giver. Or nothing just a hug or comment.

  • I never buy cards I always make my own. Or the kids make them. I think they are a giant waste of money and so impersonal. We let it happen when we technology took over for human communication. people don’t even wat to call and speak anymore they want to text or email. Its crazy!

  • Since I don’t have your address I can’t send you a ‘Great post’ card, so I’m commenting here 😉 Had a great time catching up on your latest posts. I should come by more often – you do know how to make me smile!
    The cards – what can I say? Everything comes in packages nowadays – ready to cook, ready to sew, and in this case, ready to send. Can you believe that people actually thanked us for personal notes we sent to thank for our wedding presents. Apparently it’s hardly ever done anymore – a small thank you card is left at your table at the wedding reception!! How awful.

  • Most likely the phenomenon was started by greeting card companies but may also have been initiated because of our global community. Families and friends don’t always stay put and a card or two beats the long distance charges. I may not make a call to a new mom but would send a card to welcome a new baby. I may not be able to attend a funeral far away but would certainly reach out with a card.

  • Stan is the man who has this card business off to a tee. No mater what the card, not matter what the occasion he only ever writes “Have a good life.” Simples as Orlov the Meerkat might say!!

  • Your efforts at creating your own cards go unnoticed? Sorry to say but it sounds like you need some new friends! I would LOVE it if someone gave me a handmade card! I think so many of us in the modern world have gotten very busy and have forgotten to value the little things in life that make our days more kind, sensitive and beautiful. I know thats one of the reasons I chose to live here in rural Mexico. Life is slower and I get more time to savor…to write notes, cook, garden, connect. I live on a lot less money and have little in the way of things…but thats a part of the trade off that I gladly agree to.

  • I feel the same way about cards. I love a good old fashion thank you…but that seems to have died on route to the paper mill as well. No one seems to be sending them anymore, or teaching their kids the importance of a handwritten note. It seems that cards today elicit every possible emotion a sender could possibly feel and like you say, all they have to do is sign their name, lick the stamp, and away it goes. At least it sounds like France has saved themselves from the dreaded Christmas card computer generated letter with detailed descriptions of the families trips and accomplishments. Those are downright awful!

  • I understand exactly what you mean. I get quite a lot of cards that end up being trashed. Great post

  • I’m not much of a card-sender — with the exception being the occasional, funny, personalized e-card. 🙂 I’m definitely one for sincere contact. I can’t imagine getting an “I’m Sorry” with just a signature!

  • Oh, Muriel, nice post!
    I prefer hand written notes! Who does that any more??? Hardly anyone!
    And yet, at times, like some of us with our blogs, we get way more personal than we do with people we actually know (speaking for myself, of course!).
    If my family does cards with the kids, etc., we always do Happy New Year cards (so our friends of all faith choices are not unincluded which is very different where I’m at)… but I never knew and I LOVE knowing that the French do this!

    That said, we never send Christmas cards, but I love my parents and it doesn’t offend me that they send out the mass impersonal cards.

  • North Americans have twice as many cards as the British, it is one booming industry. Personally I like to make my own cards and put a great deal of thought into each one. My mother was all the class, even when giving a card. When I was growing up the price of the card was in small pencil numbers on the back lower inner corner of the card. If you wern’t fussy on the person they got a cheap card, if it was your mum or a friend they got an average price card, and if you were trying to suck up to them or impress them (or if they were upper class) you purchased an expensive card; usually the type in a box. How sad was that?!

  • Hi, Muriel! Here, in Spain, we don’t usually send cards except at Chistmas. I prefer writing and receiving a good letter where you express your own feelings to the other person. Unfortunately, nowadays, sending letters is getting out of practice too. Everybody seems to be in a hurry and they (we) prefer to write e-mails to real letters.

    Have a good day, Muriel!

  • I have seen those cards in shops but never received or sent one…I don’t see how it can be acceptable to send out an impersonal “stock phrase”. Perhaps they are sent by people who don’t feel confident in expressing themselves.

  • I so agree, I get cards as thank you’s for dinner, for birthday presents, etc etc and I always think thanks but really what am I supposed to do with this card now? add it to the recycling. And postcards…. dont get me started on that!

  • I believe in our journey in life we all experience something similar. I’m from America and most foreigners say I have an accent and to me they have the strange dialect. When it comes to English many people say the people of England speak the proper language, however I beg to differ. They too have a sharp accent, so it goes to show many of us experience these issues from country to country. Keep up the good work, you write well.