08 December 2011


So I finally mailed out my last Christmas card yesterday. I know, I know, compared to years past I’m incredibly late this year. It doesn’t help that most of my cards were heading to the States so that by the time they arrive to their destination it will be Easter. My mother, who is very conscious of postal happenings, sent her Christmas card to us early so that it ended up arriving December 1. The arrival of my mother’s card got me all sorts of Christmas card giddy and I promptly went to Tesco to purchase a Christmas card display unit (fits up to 30 cards using a Velcro system!). Over a week later, my pathetic Christmas card display unit still only holds my mother’s card. It makes me sad looking at that card now – it practically wilts with broken dreams and thoughts of people who I thought loved us who obviously don’t.

In case you thought I was lying.

I inherited my mother’s penchant for guilt by the way.

Anyhow, this week as I was filling out all the Christmas cards to Andy’s family I was very conscious of the fact that I still refuse to ‘X’ my greeting - which brings us to yet another Britishism…the ‘X’.

When I was a kid, I learned that ‘O’ meant ‘hug’ and ‘X’ meant ‘kiss’. I also learned that S.W.A.K. meant ‘sealed with a kiss’ but that is so tremendously lame there is no wonder that any high school boyfriend who used such frivolities was not long for Dating Moe. When I was a kid, I used ‘O’ and ‘X’ greetings very sparingly. Truthfully, the only time I ever used ‘O’ and ‘X’ was filling out cheap Target Valentine’s Day cards to my class of 13 (well, 12 if you exclude me). I might have used ‘O’ to hug a friend (hi Beth!) and if I was feeling particularly daring, I might sign my name with an ‘X’ to a boy I liked. Honestly, I don’t think I was ever that daring. Basically, ‘X’ was off limits – until you had firmly secured a guy as a boyfriend. But then, ‘X’ away. I think I might still have a high school love letter where half a page of college ruled paper is filled with X’s.

With this understanding, you will know why I was a bit shocked when I received my first Christmas card from my first British friend and he had signed his name with an ‘X’. How cheeky! I wasn’t even romantically involved with this guy and he’s sending me kisses in the mail?! Wow!

This is the point where I inform my American readers who might not know, the British sign their name with an ‘X’ for EVERYTHING. Well, I suppose not in a business setting as that would be weird. “Hi Glen, Can you fax over those financial reports by the end of the day? x Steve.” I still didn’t know the extent of this ‘X’ phenomenon until I received not one but TWO texts from women in my playgroup who both signed their names with X’s. Honest to god, my first thought was, “Why do these women want to kiss me? They know I’m not gay, right?”

I obviously figured it out. I think it finally hit home when Andy’s mum asked him to sign some card thing to his male cousin in Australia and she chastised him for not signing his name with the ‘X’.

Now that I’m fully aware that all these random British people have no desire to grab me for a quick make out session in the wardrobe (I’d say ‘closet’ but there is no such thing here) I’m a bit more relax….no, no, it still fucking freaks me out. I know there no logic behind me being weird about it, it’s just there. Kind of like people who are afraid of birds because a goose nipped their finger once when they were three. To me, ‘X’ will always “I want to make out” and not “here’s a friendly kiss on your cheek, we’re practically French.”

Seriously, I don't think anyone really enjoys this practice.

Which brings me back to filling out Christmas cards to Andy’s relatives. Like I said, I refuse to sign my name with an ‘X’ but I was left with paranoia that Andy’s relatives will open their Christmas cards and think, “What an icy bitch! Look Nora, there’s no ‘X’. Where’s the love? Bloody Puritan colonist!” On reflection, this is probably why my Tesco Christmas card display is so empty. Damn you X!

Our Christmas Family Photo

On a side note to that one high school boyfriend (you know who you are); I know you were thinking you were being all sexy signing your card with an ‘X X X’ but really, all I thought was, “why is he sending me some moonshine?”

 Not that I'd mind...


  1. Just stuck a card in the post to you - didn't realize until after I bought them that the cards I chose were printed in the UK!

  2. It seems your display won't be empty for long as I just sent you a card as well. No "X's" were used.


  3. I have totally adopted the x. I love it! Of course, I have always felt that a peck on the cheek is less intimate than the full contact of a good hug. One thing that I haven't yet figured out here is when, exactly, male-female friendships progress to the 'quick peck in greeting/farewell' phase - always seem to cock that one up (no pun intended). That said, I am an instructor at a university here in England, and I do take a moment of pause when my students sign off emails to me with 'xx'. I mean, there was just a scabies outbreak at our uni. No kisses, please!

  4. BH: Still no Christmas cards! I suspect at this point that our postman is holding out on me.

    M: Scabies outbreak? Seriously? That's disturbing but strangely funny.

  5. I sent you a card earlier this week. I think I signed it with an X. I most definitely do not want to kiss you. And I agree with whoever said that hugs are more intimate. I'd rather have someone air kiss to the side than press their body up against mine. Very awkward.
    Oh, and I got your card (no X!) and just thought you had a heart of stone.

  6. VW: How am I suppose to know if that's a cashmere blend if I don't hug you to check the label? Like, duh.

    I await your X filled Christmas card with bated breath. Because I haven't got it yet. Or from anyone else for that matter. The Royal Mail must think me a cold hearted bitch as well.

  7. Confession: I found the card I meant to send you in my handbag. I'm too scared to send it now, given your stance on the X, and too lazy to write another one.

  8. VW: I fully accept that Brits and Aussies throw out kisses willy nilly so I think you should send it. I will dutifully ignore the X if it will make you feel better.

  9. I think it's already in the bin! Sorry!

  10. I found it. It was in the bin, but I fished it out. It's coming your way. I have removed the X though, with some trouble. I have however made up for this with a priceless gift.