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Who are these people?

christmas newsletter‘Tis the time to be jolly…and puzzled. At the risk of showing my inner Grinch, I’ll confess to not being as cheered as I should be by holiday wishes. It wasn’t always the case. I used to love receiving them as much as sending them, as long as they were on actual cards. Now, things have gradually gone south so that where the mantelpiece above my fireplace could barely hold the innumerable cards, it’s almost empty. I still get good wishes, sure, the generic lines entered on a virtual card—wintery landscapes enhanced by cute sleighbell music—and emailed to the sender’s entire mailing list. Or, occasionally, a customized card, still electronic, or, even more customized, an email to me as the sole recipient. Then, too often, alas, there’s the Christmas newsletter, a long-winded update about a bunch of total strangers. Sure, most of the time I know the person or the couple sending the newsletter but have no idea who all these other members of their extended family are, the older ones entering assisted living or passing away, the middle-aged ones deciding upon a career change or being laid off or fighting cancer, the young ones graduating or entering a prestigious law firm or launching their own business, getting hitched or—sadly—unhitched, the even younger ones arriving into the world. I scroll down the list of joys, expectations, disappointments, setbacks (always valiantly described as new opportunities,) of all these Olivers, Tamaras, Jacks, Sherwins, Deirdres, whose children, parents or grandparents insist on sharing with me their good and not-so-good news. I love them all, even though I don’t know them, but I don’t necessarily want to hear about them.

The lights on my Christmas tree twinkle, my family members arrive one by one, shopping is almost done, my good wishes and presents have been mailed to those who couldn’t be with us. Yet my eyes stray to the mantelpiece where the crop of actual cards, sent and addressed to me and my family by people who took the time and trouble to select them, handwrite their good wishes for the holiday season and the New Year, label the envelopes and put them in the mail grows scarcer by the year, soon to melt away completely, faster than the snow on those pretty electronic landscapes.

Ah well, so it goes, the “modern” way as one relative puts it, using a quaintly obsolete word to describe our contemporary mores. In the meantime, my good wishes, alas, also electronic–to those to whom I haven’t sent an actual card–for a merry Christmas, a happy, prosperous 2013, and, if that’s not too much to hope for, less mayhem in the world.

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  1. bobbietroy
    December 23, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Peace and good wishes, Saideh. I agree about the card thing and am also guilty of not sending them anymore. Perhaps I will start again next year?

  2. December 24, 2012 at 2:51 am

    I don’t get holiday letters from strangers, and I enjoy the ones I get from friends and family, even when they’re a little tedious. I sent out our own a couple of times, but didn’t this year – most of what news there was, I’ve already shared with anyone who would be interested. This year, I’m just doing cards, to say “hi, thinking of you” to people I care about.

  3. Katy
    December 24, 2012 at 4:24 am

    I enjoy getting the letters, and the ones I get don’t talk about people I don’t know. And I send them out myself, with cards — I still have a child at home and family members far away who (I’m told) like to hear the news. Kids do more and change more and provide good material. I try to make the letters lighthearted and funny, and every other year or so, I re-write the text to a poem instead of sending a regular letter. I’ve done Poe’s “The Raven” and “The Bells”, a Hamlet soliloquy, and I can’t remember what else. I don’t send them to everyone who gets a card, either, only those I think would be interested.

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