Graham Carter - the voice of age and experience

If you don’t receive a Christmas card from me this year, don’t despair. Not many people will.

We have finally taken the plunge and opted out of the vicious circle of sending cards.

Instead, from now on we are going to donate what we would have spent on cards and postage, plus a little bit more, to charity, and the one we have chosen is Brighter Futures, which (in case you haven’t heard) is aiming to fund a dedicated radiotherapy unit here in Swindon.

It is not a decision without controversy, and took some courage, to be honest.

Nobody likes to be the one to stand up and say ‘Shall we not bother?’ I have heard the Christmas card opt-out described as being like unilateral nuclear disarmament, which may be going too far, but I take their point.

So why no cards after all these years, and more than 170 years of the tradition?

For a start, in some respects the whole thing was turning into a farce.

It seems to me that people’s hearts aren’t always in it, and you should stop doing something when it becomes a chore.

Every time I receive a card that says simply ‘From Daphne and Jim’ I can’t help but picture them sat at their kitchen table, with Jim feeding the cards to Daphne to write the same thing on every one.

What’s the point?

And how silly, for instance, to write a card out for my twin brother, his wife and family when we see them virtually every week of the year and are having them round for dinner on Christmas Day.

Even sending a card to our friends who live in Sydney seems a bit daft when it takes five seconds to send them greetings on email or Facebook.

Of course, Facebook is one of the reasons why less cards are being sent these days, and some people talk as if social media is some kind of blight on relationships, when it is often the opposite.

It certainly has plenty of faults, but it can be great for keeping you in touch with friends or branches of the family you don’t see as often as you would like, and it is because of this that cards can be superfluous.

When we announced our intention to break the circle (on Facebook, naturally), it went down well with lots of people who seemed to be pretty relieved that they could cross us off their own list, and it seems to have inspired others to take the plunge and drop out too.

As far as we know, our decision has generated only two negative comments so far.

One was from a cousin who - “no offence intended” - said he likes giving and sending cards, so was disappointed. Fair enough.

Somebody else pointed out that a blanket ban would let down those who genuinely look forward to receiving cards because they live alone, especially the elderly.

But we had already thought of that, and have sent out a few, mainly to those we aren’t connected with, online.

Another reason for stopping is to make sure the money goes directly to charity.

Buying directly from good causes is different, but many so-called ‘charity’ cards bought from high street shops only give a tiny commission to their chosen charity, and as the mark-up on cards is huge, it’s a fraction of their profits, and much less than they can afford.

None of this reflects on my attitude towards Christmas, which I have always loved. In other words: I am no Scrooge.

But if I am visited by any ghosts on Sunday night, I’ll let you know.