Monday, 30 November 2009
Tonight, we are watching Public Enemies, with Johny Depp. Oy, mama.
I was clearing my handbag this morning. Occasionally, it just has to be done.
Out came old receipts, spare contact lenses, a few coins, one headless little girl made out of Hama beads ( No, not Hamas. Hama. Those little coloured beads children play with), a few letters from school asking for more donations, a pair of shades….(who I am kidding?) and thank you cards.
Oh, crap.- I thought. Kept carrying them in my bag for weeks now, forgetting to hand them out.
If you come from Azerbaijan, or any other country that is not so obsessed with sending cards, you would probably think what’s that?
A thank you card is a completely useless, money and time wasting middle class thing to do. What you must understand, Brits are crazy about cards. I remember in Baku, I could not wait for my New Year cards to arrive and it was magical. But that was once a year. OK, for my birthday, too. That’s twice. Also, when we were little girls, we just wrote some cute postcards and secretly dropped them in each other’s mail boxes. Fair enough, we were 10.
In the UK, it is a different story. Adults happily play those games. I spent £8 on 16 thank you cards for all the presents my child received for her birthday. After the party, instead of relaxing with a well-deserved glass of wine, I sat there, equipped with a pen and paper, noting down whose name was on the card, as my child tore the wrapping paper off each parcel. So that I would not embarrass myself later, when I thank someone for a toy they had not given. Because, it would not do to simply say “thank you or your generous gift.” No way! That would be cheating.
But this is just what has to be done around here. And it is not just the thank you cards. Brits love their cards- for any occasion. Went to visit someone? Send them a “thank you for the wonderful time” card. Someone died? Must send their family a card. Someone got sacked? No worries, there are ‘sorry you lost your job’ cards available, too.
And Christmas is the worst. Of course, it is a lovely feeling to see a card land on your doormat. There is something special about it. That element of surprise, that moment of guessing who it might be from. I personally love the stamps.
But there is absolutely no fun in getting Christmas cards from your colleagues- all the way from the other end of the open plan office. The cards are cheap and ugly. The writing is hasty. It is obvious that they do not give a crap about you and your well being during the festive season. Sometimes, someone will forget you. And as you give them their card, you know they will return in a few minutes, sheepishly handing one back. Magical. And then you get to gather all your cards, most of them from people who don’t really care about you, and proudly decorate your mantelpiece with them. Now everyone can see you have a huge lot of friends who love you. A bit like Facebook, really.
Azeries don’t do cards. We prefer gifts. I guess it is a sign of a civilized culture when people are satisfied with just cards. Say, it is your friend’s birthday. Back home, there is no way you would show up with a card. Even if it is a fancy handmade one if you paid £3,50 for. Here, in the UK it is totally acceptable.
Husband does not subscribe to the whole card issuing policy. We went to see our friends who relocated to a new area. The Azeri in me bought them a little housewarming gift. The Brit in me- a new home card to go with it.
Husband was not impressed.
-This is just so middle class wannabe!- he exclaimed, as I balanced the card on my lap in the car, writing quick wishes inside. – You will want some fish knives next!
But since when would any sensible woman listen to her husband when it comes to social etiquette? That would just lead her into a world of shame.
However, there is hope. I understand the latest fashionable thing to do is to declare you don’t do Christmas cards this year, and are actually going to donate the money to a charity instead. I love this one. Think about it! Nobody will know. And you can spend that money to buy more presents for people you actually do care about. Result!