When did we decide to stop sending Christmas cards?

I realised today that no one sent me a Christmas card. Don’t feel sorry for me. I didn’t send Christmas cards to anyone either. When I think about it, I can’t remember the last time I received a personal letter from anyone or when I last took the trouble to write one.

For many years the trigger to rush to the shops to buy Christmas cards was the receipt of the first Christmas card, late November from a super efficient friend. I usually organised an evening with my  cards, address book, pen and stamps. My old address book showed the ravages of time with its tattered pages and many alterations often marked with white out, a last century wonder corrector.

Starting in alphabetical order I pulled out the appropriate Christmas card; for the elderly Aunt, a nice religious element; for the young friend, something humorous. I would rack my brain for the name of the partner or children to put into the greeting only to give up and write ‘and family’. I would think up earnest sincere wishes ignoring the standard prepopulated greeting. Afterall, mine was far more personal. On the blank side would be updates about my year, finishing with, ‘Hope to catch up soon.’

The first ten cards were always carefully written but after getting to the “D’s”, the greetings became shorter and shorter. I dreaded the “G’s” . . . there was at least ten on that page. To save time I devised a system of dividing my cards into two. I wrote a shorter greeting to one group and a longer greeting for the other group. I deigned to give them, what we used to call, correspondence.

How did I decide who would be on the ‘short greeting’ list?
These were people who I saw all the time. They knew it was me, they didn’t need an update; they knew it already! It was people I didn’t know very well but on last meeting wanted to keep in touch; and others who warranted a card simply because they had sent one to me and I needed to reciprocate. I liked this group. The rising pile of sealed cards gave me a sense of accomplishment.

Who received a long greeting?
They were far away relatives and friends; people met via travel with the promise of keeping in contact. I kept up my Christmas card correspondence for many years with several of my travel acquaintances; and people I wanted to connect with but I had lost my way to them.
Somehow in the interest of time, my second group became smaller over the years. Sometimes I didn’t receive a card or letter in return.

Did I enjoy receiving cards?
I sure did. I displayed them proudly like a status symbol, on tinsel strung along my mantel piece. I enjoyed the envious glances from visitors who I knew were secretly wondering how I had acquired so many friends.

Why did I stop sending Christmas cards?
Was it laziness, and maybe cost? Perhaps that’s why I don’t send or receive letters or cards. When was the last time you received a letter from anyone? The best you can hope for is one at Christmas time. Does ‘snail mail’ take too long in an age of instant gratification?

So what do we do instead . . . email, Twitter, Facebook, SMS, Snapchat perhaps? But do you really write anything personal to your friends using social media? I don’t!

I wonder if the art of writing a letter or card to our friends has been lost.
Is our circle of real friends just shrinking even though we might have 800 “Facebook Friends”? Is an ecard, jib jab card or email really good enough? You can’t display it anywhere and you can’t keep it forever. Yes, I know the environment is much better off without all that extra paper. But have we just substituted it with techno gadget rubbish discarded due to obsolescence? We can recycle our cards, can’t we?

I miss the excitement of going to the mail box and finding a letter hand written with my name on it; ripping open the envelope and hungrily reading the contents with a smile, picking up a photo and admiring the writer or their family.  I miss placing the card on the mantel piece smiling in pleasure that the sender gave me more than I had expected.

Whatever the reason, it’s time to do something about it! So my New Year’s resolution is to write thoughtful and meaningful Christmas cards and perhaps a letter or two. I’ve got a whole year to get ready.

A Hot Summer Day

The cat

The cicadas draw my attention with their screech,
And the morning vocal bird song is strangely silent.
The midday heat burns and dries my eyeballs,
Penetrating my head with a thumping beat.
I blinkingly glance at the cat splayed across the deck,
Lying in the shade of the table made from worn planks.
Asleep, yet her moving tail is twitchingly alert,
A sound escapes her lips and eyes open to opportunity.
Flies buzz and dance around a fresh carcass,
A shrivelled worm, its life cut short.
Ignore the cat’s insistent appeal,
To touch the sunburnt remains of the once pink delicate hydrangea,
Thirstily waiting for a cool spray, yet to come.
The gray concrete innocently invites my bare feet
To dance across it, and smoulder bare soles.
Brown dirt beckons through the faded parched blades,
That was, weeks ago, a lush oasis of cool green.
The leaves of trees silhouette a darkening sky,
Full of promise for somewhere else?
A blustering wind springs suddenly and
Roughly swaddles me with repugnant warmth.
The washing hangs in a stiff replica of what it was meant to be,
The cat’s urgent demands end with a tumble of biscuits.
A faint bouquet of flames afar signals,
A quick escape into the cool darkness to wait.

I Remember…….

Hands

I remember the time, when I was so young,
It’s a good solid cliché, it rolls off my tongue.
When big metal computers filled a room on a floor,
Windows arrived, it turned into a door.
Then came the internet yes it was true
It took away boring and changed what we do.

I remember when the world was only my town,
Where there lived the Jones, Smiths, and the Browns.
Now it’s full of people I hold up in awe,
Opening me to things I didn’t know before.
To food that wasn’t sausage, carrot and mash,
The world has opened with a tag and a hash.

I remember playing on slides, swings and bars,
To school walk alone, it wasn’t bizarre,
Of learning times tables out loud by rote,
Sitting up straight, learning of places remote.
I travelled the world with a budget so tight
With no mobile or internet I just had to write.

Watching television with three channels, black and white
Saw the moon landing cross-legged,oh what a sight.
Went to the thunder box with paper on a hook,
Had pots on wood stoves upon which to cook.
I can heat up leftovers from last night so fast
Now with the microwave they said, wouldn’t last.

Listened to music and watched the vinyl turn,
Now storing it in cloud, what is there to yearn?
The clip clop of horses and the milkman in sight,
Now go off to Woolies to find parking, it’s tight.
With the push of a button check the calories I eat,
Feel the bulge of my tummy, better get to my feet.

I trudge on the treadmill watching a show so inane,
Do some rowing, some cycling, until, there’s some pain.
Then out for a latte and a donut or two,
And a chat with my mates, so would you too.
Intently trying to listen, resisting a look.
To check my phone for happenings on my app the facebook.

So here I am old, wrinkly, aching and wise
My figure has gone and I’m double the size.
The children are out and all very grown,
They’ve left me and the nest and now I’m alone.
I like to remember on occasion, it’s true,
But that was the past so it’s now over to you .

The Box

The Box

She strained up to the cupboard to reach to the top,
Standing on tippy toes , careful don’t drop.
Unable to reach she cursed and she saw
A chair for her to climb, high up from the floor.

Smiling with delight she grabbed what she found.
It was big, heavy and square and certainly not round.
She lifted it carefully from its specially prepared space,
Where it lay long ago , in its very secret place.

She judged the distance and with a grunt she did lift,
Down to the ground to a chair she could sit.
Like a baby she cradled it tenderly in her lap,
Looking at it closely and examining the brass flap.

It was wooden and large with carvings galore,
On its face, its sides and even its door.
There were butterflies and bridges with tiny little men,
She hadn’t remembered being there, way back then.

She knew she shouldn’t open it, not here and not now,
For the memories would flood in and furrow her brow.
But she couldn’t resist the temptation to see,
The things she’d put there, when she was free.

She opened the door, peeked and then gasped,
What am I doing? She suddenly asked.
Memories flooded back and tears sprang to her eyes,
She sat blinking furiously wondering why.

She took a deep breath picked the bundle on top,
It was wrapped with pink satin ribbon that she got from the shop.
They were well wishes and sympathies from a long time ago,
Of the loved one she treasured, who helped her to grow.

She didn’t undo the bow to look inside,
She knew what it was, it was nothing to hide.
Next was the plastic bag with the pony tail so clear,
When her hair was cut, she remembered that year.

Then was an envelope upon which her name,
Was written in ink and the card was the same.
Out fell a familiar photo and so read the back,
It was at a waterfall she recalled, as well as the track.

It made her remember the heat of the day,
As they walked and they trekked sometime in May.
There were sandwiches and cake they took along to eat,
Beside that waterfall, they’d sat on a seat.

To talk and to laugh at each other in fun,
Until it was time to go and then it was done.
She put the photo back with tenderness anew
For then she saw the package in brown paper too.

It was lying at the bottom tied with raffia so pink,
And she tugged at the bow and unwrapped, not a blink.
She picked it up; it was worn, pink and blue,
“Tinka”, she whispered, as if it was brand new.

She’d love it so much all those years that had passed,
And put it to her face and hoped it would last.
To her delight, the smell was still there,
Giving her comfort and then she just stared.

For her reverie was broken with a screech and a cry,
“Mummy, mummy, where are you?” She sighed.
Her daughter pushed the door open, with a loud bang,
“There you are my mummy,” she smiled and she sang.

With a flurry she danced in her long fairy dress,
Until she saw Tinka, to snatch and caress.
She looked down at her daughter and smiled so sweet,
Until she saw in her hand that she had Tinka’s feet.

She gasped in dismay, her daughter on the floor sat,
Oblivious of what had been done, she knew none of that.
Tinka was held to her face as her mother had done,
Before she flung her away, out the door she did run.

The mother gazed at the feet lying small and inert,
Her daughter didn’t know that she was feeling so hurt.
A tear found its way out and rolled down her cheek,
As she remembered escaping, times that had been bleak.

She picked Tinka up and shook off the dust,
Got out her sewing kit to repair. For she must,
Pack her away, from those tiny hands into her place,
In the box, in the cupboard, and it’s special secret space.

The End

Oh To Be Perfect!

Well here goes. Here’s my first blog. I suppose that’s what everyone says.

I admit that there are lots of things I am good at and when I’m good at something it feels comfortable and safe. Who gets to see the things I’m good at or that I think I’m good at? Well my family does. They praise and defend when it’s needed. Family can be relied upon to happily tell me when things aren’t good, sometimes with sensitivity and sometimes not. Good old fashioned honesty is great except when you are at your most vulnerable.

Friends on the other hand can be guaranteed to always be optimistic and reinforce your feelings that you are good, even if you don’t always believe it.

A little self criticism usually knocks on the door when you least expect it; lying in bed just before falling asleep; driving to work or my personal favourite, in the shower.
Well, for the most part aren’t we our own worst critics? We can be optimistic and full of confidence one minute and critical and deprecating in another. Women are the harshest on themselves. For many, everything has to be perfect. To move out of the perfection zone means taking a risk and having a leap of faith that it won’t exactly fit to our exacting specifications.
So here I am bungy jumping into the world of the blog. Outside the safety net, there’s no harness to keep my rambling words from tumbling into the stratosphere of the internet. Now I know how George felt drifting off in Gravity…..the movie that is.

Forgive me and my failings to anyone who reads this.

So a little about me…..

In case you hadn’t already guessed I am a new writer. I began my first novel nine months ago and have completed the story. Is it ready to make its own way into world yet? No, but it is coming along.
That’s the thing about being perfect you have to keep at it until it is just right.