Trends, Traditions and Trades

another year drifts away with the cool change, I find myself reflecting on the
Christmas past. A few Silly Season gatherings were had, a couple of kilos were
acquired, I avoided a hang over, but have relaxed in a rare and welcome way.

always there are things I would have done differently: I would have had more
drinks get-togethers at our place, I would have bought Christmas lights (blue
icicle effect ones and strung them along the front veranda for passing walkers
to admire), and I wouldn’t have sent Christmas greetings.

heard on the radio that the first Christmas card was sent only around 150 (or
was 170) years ago. It’s not that long ago really but, like wedding dresses, rapidly
became something one simply had to have to intone the event with the right feel.

over the years this family’s receipt of Christmas cards has dwindled, despite
the posting of numerous greetings. At first I thought maybe this was because
people were going electronic and didn’t want to pay for postage. I also
wondered at the value of sending a card which was only personalised to the
degree to ‘Dear friend/family member/acquaintance’, with a generic greeting of seasonal
peace and joy, concluding with ‘Love, or from, him, her and me’. So I went in
for the Christmas letter for a few years. I think I did that in hard copy for a
year or so, then I went electronic. Still the reciprocations declined.

year, I mean, last year, I thought, people don’t want to receive a Christmas
letter that either repeats what you already knew of that person or informs you
of all the things you would have known were you a closer friend to them. So, no
Christmas letter this year; instead I went for a comedy animated song and dance
video with our faces inserted into comical characters’ faces. To be fair to
myself, it was pretty funny and it did make us smile. So it should have made
the recipients smile and spreading the joy is what Christmas is all about in my

if it’s only about ‘spreading the job’ why do I feel ripped of that we only
received about eight greetings back? Most people didn’t even acknowledge that
they’d received something from us. The problem I have with this is layered: (1)
I think it’s rude to receive something and not say thank you – it did take
effort, time, thought and money to create and therefore was as personlised as a
card would have been; (2) I’m baffled as to how quickly the Christmas
card-giving ‘tradition’ has become a passé trend of yesteryear; and (3) I’m
annoyed at myself for failing to give without thought of receiving in return.

had hoped that by now, at the mature age of 40-something I would be beyond
keeping a tally, beyond the childish score-keeping of the under-developed
psyche. The two columns accounting approach of ‘what I gave’ and ‘what I got’
is so not where I want to be in life.

make a lot of donations over the course of the year to a variety of
organisations and tell myself that I’m doing so generously without thought of
what I get in return, but perhaps that’s not true. I do get a tax deduction. I
do get a warm glow of satisfaction. I do, sometimes, get the environmental, political
or social outcomes that I want and that I believe will make the world a more sustainable,
peaceful and equitable place. And while these are altruistic goals, maybe, like
Christmas cards, my donations are more trading than giving. Maybe I’m not as
selfless as I’d like to believe. Maybe I have a way to go before I simply give.

PS – clearly, this is not about you, it’s about me. Sigh.

Palitja Moore, text 2016, image 30 Dec 2015 Middleton Beach, South Australia.

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