Monday, 10 December 2007

To Greet or Not to Greet?

Christmas Cards. A time honoured way of keeping in touch. An opportunity to send out some festive cheer at an otherwise gloomy time of year. A chance to donate to charity without buying fair trade products you never really wanted.

An ecological disaster??

Think about it. All that paper produced, then discarded. All those postal miles involved with their atendent emissions (unless you're using a pigeon or the services of a friendly group of Boy Scouts who run around your neighbourhood with a satchel). All that money wasted on disposable goods.
Is this the kind of social institution the ecologically-minded should partake in at Christmas? After all, religious festivals are times when we should be thinking more about our values, and how to exercise them in daily life, not simply abandoning them to conventions.

There are many who resolve this dilemma by way of 'e-greetings'. These can be all singing, all dancing affairs, that let you deal with all your pesky friends and relatives in one batch mailing. And at little, or no, expense. But somehow, it's not quite the same.

Now, I don't think I am being overly sentimental or nostalgic here. It's just that the effect is in direct proportion to the effort involved. Just ask any lobbyist. That's human nature.
If someone remembers you, puts in the effort to find your current address, and scribbles a personal greeting on paper (especially given how little we hand-write anything these days!), it makes the world seem a better, friendlier, more considerate place. It'll sit on the mantlepiece for weeks, be read and re-read, maybe even stored away as a mark of human warmth.

If someone sends the same mass greeting to everyone they've ever met it will be opened and deleted without the same magic ingredient - remembrance. It's intangible, ephemeral, lacking in personal thought. So, in a curious way, not only does it not convey its purported 'best wishes' but it acts as a reminderof all that is lacking in many human relationships. Others seem remote, distant, cold. And that is most certainly not the message of Christmas, let alone the intention of the average sender.
Christmas is one of the few times we really take the trouble to remember friends and family. That's why we need to continue to take the trouble to show them we care. And the less virtual communication involved, the better. After all, it's only once a year folks. And if you really don't want to send a card? Make a phone call or pay them a visit instead ;)


Rundudundu said...

I totally subscribe to your sentiments.
I do believe that only by paying attention and making an effort you actually leave a little Christmas feel in someones heart.

I greatly appreciate the personalised postcards and I disproportionately hate all the e-greetings that overwhelm the inbox.

Anonymous said...

visit homepage propecia generic version - propecia side effects 1mg