Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Green or Mean

Today was the first day of Autumn, or so it felt. I'm sure there is an official first day, but frankly I don't care. It felt chilly. The trees are changing colour. I love this time of year, Halloween, Guy Fawkes night (fireworks, mulled wine, sausages, jacket potatoes, oh yes indeed). A few years back I took some nice firework photos one Guy Fawkes night. He's one I quite like:

Over in the UK we have a postal strike. I hardly ever send anything by post or depend upon it in any way, so it is, for the most part, as relevant to me as a Blue Hippopotamus strike. Then again we are under three months from Christmas, and like most people I send and receive Christmas Cards.

I still cannot figure out why I celebrate Christmas or send cards. I'm an atheist, but I was brought up in a Christian country (well Church of England which is more about tea with the vicar and village cricket than anything else). My parents were devoutly apathetic - we 'did' Christmas, Easter Sunday, ate hot cross buns and ate pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. We only ever went near a church for the occasional christening, wedding or funeral.

Anyhow, when it comes down to it, what's wrong with a day of the year where all the shops really do close, we pretend to be nice to one another and give presents we received from someone else the year before to relatives we won't see again for another year? If we atheists didn't borrow a festival from the incumbent religion in the area we'd have to invent one. Why shouldn't my child get loads of presents on a day other than her birthday?

So why do I send these stupid cards to people I actually do care about? Cards that have pictures of a winter scene that doesn't usually happen where I live until over a month after Christmas. I can't remember the last time it snowed on Christmas Day anywhere near my home. Alternatively I send cards with 'witty' comments like "Have another mince pie this Christmas, you're already fatter than Santa Claus". Almost all contain a trite, hand scrawled message saying "we must meet up in the new year".

What makes the whole fiasco even more silly is that many of my friends are similarly disposed towards religion as I am, a good number are Muslims and a small number are of other world religions. Should I give them a card because I do genuinely wish them peace, happiness and plum pudding, or not because it is not their way?

This year, I'm thinking quite seriously about creating an electronic card, with a personal picture and greeting for all my friends, and saying to the card companies: "don't chop a tree down for me this year".

Would this be considered green and 21st century or mean and Scrooge-like?


  1. I will send my usual handful of hastily scrawled, last minute cards. And, bless me, they will contain my truly English, atheist sentiment, "Happy Christmas".

  2. Definitely a green solution! I like it! In fact, I may even steal your idea.
    I also go for the non-Christian variety card. And here in Upstate New York, we really do get the snowy Christmas so the little snow scenes work.

  3. Like the Eddie Izzard quote:
    Church of England fundamentalism is impossible because you can't have: "You must have tea and cake with the vicar... or you die!"


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