Polly's pages (aka 'Donna Williams')

Ever the arty Autie

Dealing with unwanted Christmas cards.


For the record, by Donna Williams  We all get them, year after year….those PR ‘Christmas cards’ which remind us that a company is thinking of us (and their potential future capacity to profit from us). 

I think they are now so very passe.  Before we understood about deforestation and where that cheap paper comes from, we didn’t mind these colorful slivers of dead tree so much.  Before we understood the cost to the planet of the useless useage of the fuel involved delivering these useless PR bumph we didn’t mind so much to be reminded we, er, our custom, was ‘valued’.   Before we each took personal responsibility not only of our own wastage but that which was made in our name, we didn’t mind these, mostly strangers, sending us cards signed by some proxy or even with digitally reproduced signatures.  But that was then, this is now.

It just ain’t cool anymore, not sure if it ever was.  It was one of those things were giving got fudged with commercialism, where friends got fudged with friendly businesses who, if you were broke, wouldn’t give you a second glance.  But what to do?  How do you opt out of these seemingly ‘nice’ gestures?  Well to start with they aren’t ‘nice’, they are psychological warfare, they are advertising, they are fishing.  The card is the bait, we are the catch.  There’s nothing nice about it.  If these were real sentiments, they wouldn’t mention the business, they’d just be a card from the manager who we knew on a first name basis.

So what did I do when I got my first on of 2008 now that I’ve developed my environmentalist conscience?  Well, I took that card, went to my email and wrote to the email address on the complimentary fridge magnet.  This is what I wrote:

 Dear X

thank you for the Christmas card advertising Company X.

However, I’m an environmentalist and humanist and would much rather you spent the 60 cents it cost in postage, paper & printing to donate that to a humanitarian cause.

In fact if you were to gather the money normally spent on sending out all those PR cards, you could buy something of real value from Oxfam Unwrapped  and then email those you’d have otherwise sent cards to and give them the warm fuzzies knowing Company X is eco-friendly, doesn’t believe in wasteage and is humanitarian.


Donna Williams *)

Hey, but I was on a roll.  I got a card from a Christian friend.  It was one he prints out and sends each year with a distinctly Christian message.  The postage had cost him 90 cents and the envelope, paper and printing, maybe another 10 cents, so he’d spent $1 sending me this generic but Christianly-felt card.

Problem is, aside from that I’m a humanist-Taoist sort of atheist, I also have a strong environmentalist and humanitarian bent.  What did I do?  I wrote to him thanking him and suggested the following:

Hi Y,

thank you for your valued opinion of our professionalism as musicians.
your classical work was quite enjoyable.

thank you also for your Christmas card.

However, I’m an environmentalist and humanist and would much rather you spent the $1 it cost in postage, paper & printing to donate that $1 to a humanitarian cause you believe in.

That would suit both of us – you the Christian, and me the humanist.


Donna *) 

Now I will of course cut the covers from these cards and use them on brown paper shopping bags I’m using as wrapping paper.  Why should those slivers of dead tree now be wasted when they can at least be recycled?

And so I believe in Christmas and giving?  Sure.  I’ve done my Christmas shopping with Oxfam Unwrapped.  I’ve made bouquets of herbs from our garden for people to enjoy in their Christmas dinner cooking.  We’re into quality ethical food hampers where we can collectively celebrate Christmas and how lucky we are to have food when much of the world does not.  And we put it all into a picnic basket we’ll open on Christmas day and then reuse year after year.

Maybe I should appreciate these cards.  After all, giving has become greed in a world were it’s supposedly ok to greet strangers with the B word and the F word just to show one’s bravado credentials, a world where people seek to indulge or discover their inner sociopath based on now heavily marketed mainstream ‘ghetto’ culture to the degree many have no idea who the hell they really are (seems all the guys are now pimp-gangstas and the girls are Britany/Paris drama queens advertising a girl-girl tongue thing so mainstream now its almost a uniform).  These images are based on an 80s-90s narcissism of give me-give me one-size-fits-all personality, largely imported world wide from US dog-eat-dog youth and corporate cultures and we all ate it up.  May we wake up and learn once again to value our real diversity.  If we did, wow, what a great Christmas present to ourselves.  May Sanity Claus smile upon you.

Donna Williams *)