Every year, without fail, we are told that Christmas traditions are slowly disappearing before our eyes.
Not enough of us go to church during Advent, hardly anybody under the age of 60 makes their own Christmas pudding and when was the last time that you kissed anybody, other than your great aunt Doris (when ‘you’ were nine, I hasten to add), under the mistletoe?
It is true that Yuletide habits are shifting - how else can we explain some people dishing up Yorkshire Pudding alongside their turkey and pigs in blankets - but we are not quite ready to give up on the sprouts and The Snowman just yet.
For many years now we have been told that giving out Christmas cards is something done only by people who stand up for the Queen’s Speech and can remember rationing.
Christmas cards, they say, are in terminal decline right across the world, largely because a) many of us cannot be mithered digging out the address book, if we still have one, and b) because wishing your Facebook friends a jolly holiday in a single, one line post is much easier than vainly writing ‘we really hope to see you sometime in the New Year’ at least 50 times.
For most of us, writing cards in December is as tedious as mowing the lawn or repainting the garden fence but it really needs to be done if you value human contact of any meaningful description.
It is still the only internationally recognised way of telling people who you don’t see very often that you really do care about them, especially if you take the time to fill in at least one side of the card with inane detail from the last 12 months of your humdrum life - I find that my Christmas isn’t complete if I haven’t been filled in about a distant relative’s gallstones.
It doesn’t matter how clever your emailed corporate seasonal message is, the handwritten versions are much more appreciated by those who receive them.
It is true, however, that not every traditionalist puts a great deal of effort into their festive correspondence and I am firm believer that no card is better than one that simply bears the sender’s name and no message. Not even the names of the recipients or one miserable x at the end. That has to be most pointless of exercises.
Another theory on why cards are less popular than they used to be is the cost of stamps and cards. Yes, stamps are far dearer than they were in the not-so-distant past but you try to get anything delivered the next day for 67p and see how far you get. Despite all the well documented issues facing our postal system - Royal Mail still offers incredible value, especially at this, the most expensive time of the year.
As for the cost of cards, there are plenty of places where you can buy a pack of 10 for a quid or, if you are especially shrewd, you will pick up a job lot for the cost of a loaf on December 27 but there is no guaranteeing that you will remember where you put them when it comes to the following year.
This year we have received as many cards as we have done in a long time, so I am pretty confident that some of us will be scribbling pithy messages to passing acquaintances for years to come yet.