Emails to Santa, online advent calendars and Facebook cards are all very well, especially when it comes to paper saving, but to me they miss the point – and the spirit – of the festive season.
The digital switchover has now hit Christmas. One in three children will write to Santa on a website or a smartphone, according to a recent survey. Few are planning to post a letter to Lapland (what did Royal Mail do with those?).
The same survey (commissioned by a theme park for some reason) says that almost a quarter of us will send season’s greetings via Facebook this year, rather than by card.
Surely this is a great saving of paper, and therefore trees, making up for the millions that will be slaughtered in the name of carrying multi-coloured baubles?
Why does it matter if Christmas goes online?
In theory, a virtual Christmas sounds good. But in practice, it makes for a definite lack of spirit.
In our house, we have two advent calendars. One is online, and one is an old-fashioned thing made of cardboard with pictures of angels and shepherds. We had to scour far and wide to find it, rejecting all those containing chocolate and branded Disney.
Ironically, to find a really good cardboard advent calendar, we had to go online.
I’m not a reactionary, and happily go online for better deals, money conversions and the origin of macaroni cheese, but if we had only an online advent calendar, I wouldn’t see it as soon as I walked into the room, and nor would the children.
And if we had only seasonal greetings via Facebook or email, what would we cover our shelves with to remind us that we really ought to call people we’ve not spoken with for far too long?
The Christmas spirit is about generosity, and, to me, that includes taking the time to write to people individually, on a card they can put on their shelf to remind them of you.