Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Here and there

Just back from a nice long weekend trip to Colorado, where my wife and I visited our daughter and her family.  The centerpiece of the weekend was our six-year-old granddaughter's performance in "The Nutcracker."  She was one of the Ginger Snaps who emerge from underneath the skirt of a woman during the second act and, from all appearances, performed her role quite well!

We were delayed a couple of hours leaving the Denver area Monday, not because of the snow that the area was receiving, but because of an aircraft mechanical issue.  Glad that we weren't traveling today, as that same area will be the recipient of six to nine inches of fresh snow.  Great for the ski resorts that dot the mountains outside of Denver, but not so great for the average commuter and certainly not for air travelers.

One of the things I took note of during our extended wait in the Denver airport was a woman who took the opportunity of some downtime (she was apparently flying in from one location and her husband from another, so she was in our vicinity waiting) to write her Christmas cards.  She had what appeared to be a box of about fifteen cards and was handwriting and hand-addressing these cards; she even had stamps with her.  Most impressive.

Each of most of the last twenty years or so we've written and included the "Christmas letter" with our cards.  One year, for a variety of reasons, we decided not to do the letter, and we really heard about it from our card exchangers.  So we've continued the practice since.

For that reason and others, Christmas card effort is seldom a similarly movable feast, as our card list grew with the marriages of both of our children and the addition of their extended families.  We reached a high of sending something like 55 cards a few years ago, and I use the computer to produce labels and our newsletters for legibility and efficiency.  But we've noticed in the last couple of years that we get progressively fewer and fewer cards, and correspondingly, we're sending fewer, too.

My speculation on why we're getting fewer cards--Facebook, e-mail and many other more immediate forms of communication.  By virtue of me commenting so on a blog anyone can see that I am not at all an opponent to social media of various types.  But what I find surprising is that we don't find out information about some with whom we maintain a casual, long-distance friendship until the Christmas card arrives and carries certain news with it.  Like the death of a well-loved aunt from my wife's deceased first husband's family.  This was mentioned casually, as though it was common knowledge, but we knew nothing about it.  Or the cancer that the husband of a college friend of my wife suffered and has apparently overcome.

If you're not in the loop in the normal communication channels (Facebook, I'm looking right at you), you don't find out these things.  We're all so busy and so self-absorbed, I suppose, that it's just easier to post something on Facebook for all to see, rather than get the word out in a more traditional manner.  Nothing wrong with that, I suppose, but it takes some adjustment.

So at some point we'll inventory the cards we've received this year, and, as we generally do, we'll determine not to send cards to some folks next Christmas.  This sounds kind of punitive, I suppose, but with the cost of cards (and labels and paper and stamps) ever increasing, it's the smartest approach.  So don't be offended if you didn't receive a card from the Smiths.  Fewer and fewer are these days.

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