December 8th, 2012
There’s a dumb article today in the Globe (I refuse to play their linkbait games, so you’ll have to look it up or take my word for it) about how Christmas cards are the embodiment of old-fashioned community and intimacy, and too few people take the time to do that, and ecards aren’t the same. Halfway through the author mentions offhandedly that she herself sends no cards ever, but wishes she did and that everyone did and society is sadder now because decent loving classy women like herself no longer have time to send cards.
Having just mailed several dozen holiday cards this afternoon, I think I might be qualified to say that this is nonsense. I’ve been sending cards for years to folks who never send one back, without a care or a thought for it. Holiday cards are one way among many to show you care about someone (I’m not someone who calls out of the blue and says, “I was wondering how you are!” for example, but I love it when I get that call), and everyone is free to choose a different way or no way at all.
Here’s the killer quotation: “Ironically, taking care to do something is about taking time from other activities, the very thing we are unwilling to do.” Not only do I not get how that’s ironic, I think that’s pretty childish. Every grownup in the world chooses every day among a number of ways to spend time. You simply can’t have every nice thing that’s available–there isn’t time, money, or room in the house. I don’t think acting like a victim of one’s own life–I’m too busy to do anything I want!–is a mature ownership of one’s choices.
It’s dumb to say there was a golden age of caring and we’ll never get it back. That’s artificial nostalgia at its worst. It’s also dumb not to take responsibility for doing something or not doing it. We all have our priorities–that’s not a 2012 invention. I bet the author of the above article has watched a few tv shows, had a few inane conversations, hunted for a better parking spot, all since November 12. By my count, it takes 2-3 hours to write, address, and post Christmas cards–I bet she could’ve done it, she just chose not to. And if she valued those conversations, who am I to say she should not have had them? It’s just the complaining I don’t like.
Friends, if you want to send cards, skip one holiday cocktail night/Peanuts special/nap and send them. And if you don’t want to send them, that’s fine–enjoy your parties and naps and I’ll still probably send one to you.