Sunday, December 29, 2013

Keeping In Touch

When I was a child, I remember the excitement in my mother's eyes when she saw "The Round Robin" had arrived in the mail.  Now keep in mind, when I was a child, there was no email, no cell phones, no text messaging, and heaven forbid, no Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.  And in those days, people saved long distance phone calls for only special occasions or emergencies.

The Round Robin was a series of letters written by the cousins.  You wrote your letter, put it in the packet and sent it on to the next person on the list.  My mother had a lot of cousins.  I think there were upwards of 30+.  Each letter included what was going on in the immediate family, perhaps a recipe or two (from the female cousins anyway), a good Norske joke, and pictures.  It was a bit like a long distance family reunion.

Fast forward from the early 1960s to present day.  My mother, and I would guess most of her cousins, have made their transitions.  I'm lucky if I know the names of any of my second cousins on that side of the family, much less anything about them or their families.  They all lived back in Wisconsin, and we lived in Washington.  Hell, I hardly keep in touch with my first cousins, and they live in California.

The other day, I was posting on my Facebook page, and pondering if Christmas Cards had gone the way of The Round Robin (well not in those words, but you get my drift).  I used to love looking through the cards my parents had received.  They had a wide circle of friends, not only in our local area, but they kept in touch with classmates from elementary school, college friends, medical school classmates, and people they served with during World War II.  When I got married, I continued on the tradition.  I didn't have the scope of friends that my folks did, but I had a fair number of people that I kept in touch with.  I had aunts and uncles, cousins (first, second and all those ones considered "removed" - hopefully you have an bit of an understanding of genealogy so you know about which I speak), friends, work friends (past and present).  Eventually my list got pared down.  I had kids.  I had full time jobs.  I was busy.  When long distance calls got bundled into the monthly phone bill, when cell phones became popular, and when soon most everyone had email, we all kept in touch more frequently that just through Christmas Cards.  Next came smart phones, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Now you could keep in touch with so many people with just one post.  Who needed a Christmas Card, or heaven forbid, the "Family Christmas Letter"?

Hey - well - I do!  I miss them.  I miss the personalization you can put in a note to someone.  And of course, as it goes, while I was bitching about all this, I got sick (nothing serious, just annoying) before Christmas, and I didn't get many cards sent.  And frankly, I was tired of always sending out cards, and not getting any back.  This thought has been niggling away at me for the last few weeks.

This morning, I was laying in bed and came to the conclusion I just wasn't going to send out cards anymore.  I wasn't going to get my panties in a wad because I sent out cards and didn't get anything back.  Done.  Decided.  Finished.

Or so I thought.  That wee small voice in my head chose that moment to say "Do unto others as you would have done unto you."

Well, crap.  I guess I can't expect others to write to me if I haven't written to them, can I?  And is it really about who writes first, or most often?  Okay, okay, okay… ego says yes, but deep down I know better.  Maybe it is an issue of expense, when people don't respond.  Cards and postage are cheap.  Maybe it is a time thing.  Lordy, I know what it is to be busy and just not have the time to pee, much less write Christmas cards.  I get it.  What if my card gave its recipient an excuse to take a break, and have a little laugh at the exploits of my grandsons (who, by the way, are hilarious!).  What if I focused on the joy I could possibly bring to someone's day, just by writing a card.  Hmmmm.  Something to think about.

Perhaps for 2014, I'll get my cards now, and start sending them in July.  That way people, most of whom are very busy around the holidays, may have time to respond.  Maybe a Christmas Card in July will make them smile.  That, after all, is my goal.