Greetings Card companies are always looking for smart new ways to get more money out of us by inventing new reasons to send cards. After all - the greetings card was designed in days gone by when you wouldn't see so many people at Christmas or on their birthday or wedding anniversary and so you would send your greetings in a card, via the miracle of the fledging Royal Mail.
Nowadays with the wonders of cars, trains, planes, bikes and rollerblades we see each other more frequently and more easily and have text messages, email, phone calls, facebook, twitter and Jesus H Gates knows what else.
So why do we still send cards? More perversely - I have found myself handing greetings cards to people. "Happy Christmas! :-) Here's your card" ......which says "Happy Christmas" in it and then, ludicrously, is signed to demonstrate that it is indeed me that is wishing you that.
Valentines cards were always there to send an anonymous message of love or admiration to the one you longed for - secretly and subtly. Now we are supposed to send them to our partners, spouses and girlfriends. "Be My Valentine?" - "Erm, well, I already agreed to be your wife - do you remember - that day in 1999 when you said "I Do" in the church and then got horribly drunk and danced like a giddy toddler to A-ha in the hotel bar - so I think I have already 'agreed' to something a little more binding so perhaps the idea of being your valentine is a little redundant?".
Oh, you're so unromantic, folk will say.
Bollocks I say. My other half gets flowers, gifts, surprises and affection - but do you know what - it happens spontaneously and more than once a year and not just because Clintons remind me it's February 14th so I'd better buy her some chocs and a vile glittery card to tell her I love her in the most insincere way possible (ie with someone else's words in a twee verse inside the card rather than my own words, spoken to her directly).
Well, they have successfully turned that into a money spinner and now they have Fathers' Day. Never used to exist. Mothering Sunday did (never involved cards either) and they turned that into a money spinner too. Well done Hallmark, Andrew Brownsword et al.
Nothing wrong with these particular days being celebrated (I think Hallmark have invented Grandparents Day too) but can't you just get these people a nice gift and tell them you love them and how much they mean to you face to face or over the phone - from the heart.
Well......with all these avenues successfully explored how else do the card companies increase their market? Well....it seems the solution is to increase the pool of people to whom you send cards. And by people I mean pets.
Yes, you can now get Christmas Cards that say "To The Dog" or "To The Cat" on the front. They have them in WH Smiths and Clintons (other card shops are available), but why would you?!?
With all the other nonsense I have listed above we are wasting several million trees each year - but now they urge you to 'send' or 'give' a card to your dog!?! You may as well show him the local delivery pizza menu that dropped through your letterbox whilst patting him on the head and giving him a bit of turkey for all the difference it will make to his understanding that you are wishing him a Merry Christmas.
Finally, I must add that, not content with this travesty, Smiths also have "Merry Christmas From The Dog". Yes, you read that correctly.
A card for you to buy your insipid spouse or stupid children and sign it, no doubt, with a crudely drawn felt-tip doggy paw-print as a signature and the whole family can pretend that Bullseye sent a card to wish you all Seasons Greetings.
If you are in that last category may I strongly recommend you re-assess your life choices.