Christmas cards potted for you

   I don't know about you, but I'm a bit naffed off with all these 'days' we have; Valentines, Fathers, and most of all Black Fri.
   Mother's day I don't mind as it feels real. The rest, not so real. More like cynical marketing ploys to sell cards, crap and meals out, all at exorbitant prices to help companies that don't need it make even more money.
   But Christmas cards, they're OK aren't they? They go back years and have as much of a root as Mother's Day (nb, a card and a bunch of daffs is enough, OK?).
   You'd like to think so, wouldn't you? Turns out, no. Christmas Cards are just another way of making money. Well, that's kind of an obvious truism: it is a huge industry now. But this frenzy is as artificial as Kentucky Fried Chicken day in Japan, or Black Friday or any of them, really.
   Let me take you back to the beginning. It's not far. Really. About 1843. Queen Vic is on the throne. And the Public Records Office had a chap called Henry Cole in the hierarchy. If you know that the Public Records Office became the Post Office, then you are already ahead of me. 
It seems young Cole (Sir Henry to you and me) was casting round for a way to encourage the hoi polloi to make more use of the P.R.O. He and an artist mate, John Horsley, came up with the idea of a card at Christmas.
   Now Sir Henry was a busy, and senior, man, with a wide circle of friends, acquainatances and business contacts to sweetent up, and it may have been the need to keep up with so many that led him to his ground-breakig idea. Because as we all now know, a card is a short-hand way of sending everyone good thoughts, rather than writing individual letters. And what's more there's less unnecessary sacrifices by geese, ink, paper and time. So his artistic friend sketched out Sir Henry's idea and lo, the first Christmas card was made. A print run of 1000 ensured Sir Henry could greet all his friends with A Merry Christmas & Happy New Year To You”.
   This card (below) is incredibly rare now, and highly sought after being the first ever Christmas card.
   In fairness, it took several years before the idea really took hold in the public consciousness, but I think we can agree it is firmly established there now.
   Perhaps, though, we are about to see the end of it. The internet has such a massive effect.
   I don't know about you but this year I have had three email cards and two via Facebook. Will Sir Henry's plan to save time and extend the use of the Post Office with Christmas Cards even last 200 years?  



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