The proven method to maintain our social network

Peter Matheson reflects on the disappearance of Christmas cards and other little rituals.

These days, the sending of Christmas cards is in decline. Everyone says it. Definitely on the way out. Like letters and postcards. Hard copies are just too hard. So we just skype or email or zoom or type a message on the mobile phone. Fair enough, too.

Electronic cards don’t do anything for me though. I think their glitter only spreads sadness.

Thus, a small ritual seems to disappear. In the past, the number of cards flowing through the mailbox was a status symbol. Showed where you were on the hierarchical list. How many friends you could brag about. So once the fireplace (it was gone too, of course!) And all the available surfaces were filled, we would hang the letters from ropes like prayer flags. It’s all part of the Christmas decorations.

Well, things are changing, of course.

And it’s true, some cards weren’t up to par, grabbed at the last minute in panic. All those hackneyed robins and reindeer and a fat, limp Santa Claus. Just a hasty greeting scribble. Artistic maps could really grab attention, however, with their vivid nursery scenes, stained glass shots and the like. Artist friends and kids would even create their own, possibly including intricate straw stars, a treat for the hands and eyes.

A friend did smart things with his computer, creating vivid images with imaginative Maori greetings.

This year we were incredibly lucky, finding a local artist who created delicate “blessing cups” for us from frail mahoe leaves and pansy petals and had them professionally photographed. So sweet and unique. And like many of our friends, we have continued to attach a review of the past year.

With that little rant over the year, you can plant a kind of metaphorical stake in the ground, in short, offer people a personal view of what the year has been for you, knowing that others will return the favor. with their good wishes and thoughts.

Once the writing (and licking) flurry is over, the table is covered in a cheerful litter of stamped envelopes that connect one with old and new friends across Aotearoa, or maybe Australia. , Germany, Scotland, England, USA, anywhere.

The stack of envelopes reminds you that you are not alone in the world.

In this individualistic society, now, now, now, it’s a bit of a challenge to take a step back, to reflect on the year, to share precious moments with others, to realize that we are doing part of a large network of relationships.

It is beneficial to think of people who have played a creative role in your life. It’s so easy to drift off these days. So easy to get swamped with wave after wave of negative news, all the social media chatter. All the more reassuring, then, to renew old threads of partnership and friendship and to be reaffirmed, hung up. It is good to remember that there is love and friendship there, a community with a human face.

So if these Christmas cards and messages can bring this benevolent world to life, maybe we should stick with them. The little ritual should not be lost.

Peter Matheson is a Dunedin historian.

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