Sunday, December 16, 2007

Where Are My Christmas Cards?

As a communication and connection junkie, I mourn the loss of my Christmas cards. At eight days before Santa, I have received only seven. The Ghost of Christmas Past: I used to get nearly 50. Nobody loves me; everybody hates me; think I’ll eat some worms.

Not really, but I will pout. Maybe e-mail and more constant communication makes them redundant in most modern relationships. Then there’s the eco-factor. I design my own and do a well-thought-out annual newsletter. My generic missive is more personal than most people’s one-on-ones. Still, I convert them to .pdf files and e-mail them to many people, especially those halfway ‘round the world. It’s not just the postage saved; it’s the energy for the transportation. At least I know I’ll save the equivalent of any pine branches I use to decorate. Not everyone is a creativity machine, and I’d be happy to receive store-bought cards well chosen.

There is something about the art and sentiment in these once-a-year offerings that I sorely miss, now that most of them are gone. Some people find family letters impersonal; I think they’re fabulous. No one has time to write to 20 people once a year, forget more often. The generic news and a note—even a real signature!—give me enough personal touch to gush with gratitude.

It’s really about connection. These tiny bits of cardstock, ink, or computer printout mean you want to keep me. I’m a keeper! There are relationships I truly value that are Christmas Card Companions. Even though we only connect once every 365 days, this custom honors the important place we still hold for each other in our lives. Often separated by miles and years of going down different paths, the annual card is old home week, a balm, a sense of continuity. I love them for that. They are personal history come home to give you a kiss under the mistletoe. They cause me to reflect where I’ve last been since I saw Art & Michele, Lynne, Judy—people who represent my young adulthood, college days, and Catholic grammar school era respectively.

If you want an exercise in stimulating your own hot flashbacks that can lead to cool insights, compile copies of your past holiday letters and look where you’ve been and what you’ve reported for the past 5-10 years—or however many you have kept. If you’ve got time, and if you also have the gene for packrat, my family curse, read others’ old cards and Christmas letters. You know, the ones you have saved with that wrapping paper that is so old, the store where you bought it went out of business more than a decade ago.

This reflection starts a trend in keeping with the natural cycle that begins at Winter Solstice on December 21. In one of my favorite, wacky Tom Robbins novels, Still Life with Woodpecker, the heroine is reportedly “off cycle with the Moon.” Never mind her periods that are out of sync with the lunar phases. Our entire culture is off cycle with the Moon, stars, planets, and especially the Earth. Take the dark winter, a time when other animals and vegetables are hibernating or dormant. If we had any sense at all, we would be meditating, reflecting, resting, and vegging. Instead, we are running around high on sugary cappuccino and latte drinks at malls mobbed with people, acting loony—our only claim to synchronization with the Moon.

If you can’t do it this year, make a resolution for next: Finish all your shopping by Thanksgiving and the merriest parties by Equinox Eve. Keep the peace of silent nights and reflective gatherings of spirit and family beginning with the Solstice.

This is how we were meant to be. And don’t get me started on New Years, designed to be the ultimate inner time, normally spent like we’ve got ants in our pants, no inhibitions, and a lust for alcohol that a large lake of champagne could not quench.

More on this later. Meanwhile, would someone please send me a Christmas card? Even a Merry e-mail?


Linea said...

Hi Joyce
I too mourn the loss of hand-written Christmas cards with family pictures and something besides a signature! And believe it or not, I still write those kinds of cards (fewer than I used to, but still!).

Great to see you online, my Chiron companion!


Joyce Mason said...

Ditto, Linnea. We've had our own Christmas card moment exchanging blog comments. Just had to say that as soon as I posted this, I got 10 new cards in the mail. Maybe I hollered before I was hurt, but the volume is sure down compared to the good old days. I can remember when I was young and convinced I'd ever use such a phrase!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Joyce,

I seem to send and receive fewer Christmas cards each year, and Christmas preparations seem to take more and more time. Well, that's what happens as we get older. I do wish you a belated Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

Mary Lou

rosie said...

We have gotten so used to online communication that a hand written card is invaluable. Wow, just think if we put a classic seal on it, or put a dried flower in it. Let's go back boomers!