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