Card Anxiety.

Calendars I can do. Indeed, calendars I do do. Every year I rattle through the many, many photos I have taken of Miss Hairy Mary Miyagi, possibly the most photogenic (and reluctant) cat of all time, and select 13 of the least worst to grace her own bespoke calendar. These are very rare productions: one for our house and one for big sister’s, and that’s it. One day, when Mary starts her own Instagram account specifically to flaunt her ostentatious beauty, they will be regarded as collector’s items and worth an absolute fortune. Three have been made this year because a friend of Wifey’s has asked for one too, which I think is a bit odd but maybe she’s already sussed a good investment. The other two are destined for the usual; sorry to spoil the calendar shaped surprise, big sister. But calendar’s are fine because they only have a limited circulation – you wouldn’t give a friend a calendar filled with pictures of yourself, or at least I wouldn’t. Not even a blind friend. Cards on the other hand are a whole different ball game.

There are only a few groups of people who annually send family Christmas photo cards: egomaniacs and narcissists, the rich, the deluded, the needy and the mentally challenged. Oh, and The Royal Family, who are all of the above. You may have seen on the news a shot of Boris Johnson’s Christmas card featuring his arse wipe of a dog – Dilyn. Boris Johnson is all of the above too, and so is his ludicrous wife: a woman who sees fit to order wall paper at £840 a roll. They truly deserve each other, and nothing else. But this year even Boris Johnson will have to concede that his card is nowhere near as awful as some of the Royal cards we have seen over the years, and 2021 may even top the lot. You see, to send a family photo card you have to assume several things: that people want a card from you, that people think you are as brilliant as you clearly do, and that people will want to see a picture of you every time they stand near the mantle piece. That is quite the ask.

Why, for instance, would anyone want a photo of Charles and Camilla in their living room? It would just be weird, unless you’re the kind of person who would leave it out deliberately so that guests would ask why you got it etc, but that’s weird too. I wonder when Prince Andrew last sent family cards, or just an image of him, Jeffrey and Ghislaine sharing a pitcher of mulled wine as they pose in a grotto filled with selections from Epstein’s collection of erotic ‘art’. You’d have to be pretty fucking desperate to want, or worse, need a card from any rank lower than that – an Edward or a Beatrice (though one could safely argue that it would be near impossible to stoop low enough in the rankings of human life to consider Andrew your superior in any form whatsoever). No, the cards people really want are Charles and Camilla or above, and that only leaves a few possibilities: the Queen, William and Harry, in rapidly descending order of importance.

We’ll leave the Queen out of all this because she at least has retained a shred of dignity and restraint. William, Kate and the kiddies have clearly already prepared themselves for a life of hand shakes and being curtsied to and being very serious about serious issues and not very funny at all about pretty much anything else. Their card for this year is an explosion of dull, and that is what we’ll need when Charles is officially diagnosed with a severe bout of being a complete clown and is hidden away in a walled garden where can talk to the hyacinths and fuck gnomes for the rest of his days. They had their photo taken in Jordan earlier this year – they were probably dabbling in ideas far above their station – and if they were actually thinking of a good shot for a Christmas card then were a little off the mark. William is even wearing shorts. Because he’s just like us. A poor effort. And yet.

If there is one card that is bound to quickly fill your crackling fireplace with sick and tears this year it has to be, inevitably, from the gift that gave up giving, The Sussex’s. Their photo was taken this summer in Santa Barbara, and even though it has Santa in the name I can’t think of anywhere less likely to conjure up an image, or an attitude, of Christmas than that. To show that Harry has been totally converted the card bears the very American message – ‘Happy Holidays’, and features the family of four enjoying their triumphant envelopment in a world that reality has completely deserted. Even though Harry and Meghan are theoretically in the centre somehow Meghan has managed to also be totally in the centre on her own, as she lifts her darling Lilibetfred into the air. The couple smile adoringly up, but their jealous eldest is less focused as he squirms uncooperatively on his father’s knee (you just know exactly what kind of kid Archie is turning out to be, when Mummy isn’t looking). Doubtless Meghan ordered everyone to look natural, you know, in a nice way. It somehow says so much about them, and also about how little of value and warmth there really is to say. It is the family Christmas card to end them all, and you can bet Oprah’s will be on proud display. Adele will probably get one too. Mine hasn’t turned up yet, but I can wait. Forever.

G B Hewitt. 24.12.2021

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