This weekend, one of the last rituals of a festive holiday season was, taking down the wonderful holiday cards we have received this season. Altogether, there were 44 stories on our wall, telling us about newborns, weddings, cancer recoveries, pet tragedies and many other interesting anecdotes. Some cards were shining photographs of friends and family, smiling and posing in uncomfortable poses with unusual costumes – and there were those that displayed genuine smiles with wonderful gestures – maybe at a Thanksgiving dinner, a karate chop, or a day on the beach!
Receiving and sending holiday cards, has been a family tradition for my family, from when I was a little child. I remember my parents sending out UNICEF cards and handwriting those cards to friends in far-away lands. I have always been mesmerized by the act of generosity when we received amazingly colorful cards from four continents.
In recent times, friends often send one page essays of highlights from the previous year. I learn of new dog additions – or piano recitals, college graduations, unique bike rides and many other interesting and unique aspects of many families, in a quick snapshot. Once, I received a CD with pictures of a family’s annual highlights, embedded with their favorite musical tunes! Love the creativity!
Even in this age of electronic agility, I am always amazed by how much, this small gesture of sending of a holiday greeting card, still moves me. It makes me sit and think about the year. The year of links connected, or disconnected; of relationships built – or ended. It makes me grateful for the amazing gift of friendships that I celebrate in my life.
This year, after holiday cards arrived, I actually re-connected with two colleagues from different past work lives, with a quick phone call. It is always great to hear their voices and learn about where they live now or what new adventure they are embarking on.
Recently, I saw an electronic posting where someone wrote, one’s age maybe celebrated by the number of friends we have – not the years we live! By the list of friends and family, that we either sent cards to – or received cards from – I feel incredibly blessed!
At work, I always urge my up-and-coming leaders to write hand-written thank-you notes to customers and colleagues – for some generosity that they have experienced that particular week.
Every Friday, make it a practice, to take thirty minutes of your working day to sit back and reflect on your past week – think of all the gifts you have received – close your eyes and thank that person and write them a note – nothing major, just a plain, simple ‘thank you’.
Having written many such cards myself, I have often seen thank you cards, my thank-you cards posted on people’s bulletin boards. The power of a simple “thank you” is immeasurable. People do care, when they receive a hand-written thank you note.
In this world of electronic gimmickry, people send electronic thank-you cards on the guise of being eco-conscious or just simple, efficient. Nothing wrong with that; however, let me say, there is something cathartic of writing a small note and closing that small envelope and maybe putting a stamp on it. It’s just a bit of a sacrifice – of time and of emotion – that goes a long way to express gratitude – holiday season or not.
This season, the Mahmood family holiday card has pictures of my beautiful princesses – well poised for a Cinderella Ball – embracing and smiling – as one often does for cameras. Everything that one goes through in a year, the anguish, the loss, the pain – cannot be summarized in a small card. It also does not suit the occasion. We don’t have a long essay to share. Our comments are borrowed from a dear friend’s gift: “To Believe, is to Know that Every Day is a New Beginning”. Shania and I personally label the envelopes and seal/stamp them, almost as a family ritual, the day after Thanksgiving.
In 2013, we wish all our friends with new beginnings – wherever they are. We wish everyone well – good health and happiness. In November of 2013, when it’s time again, I hope to keep up is this “old-fashioned” ritual of writing a small note to all my friends, telling them of achievements and setbacks that make our journey complex – yet a meaningful curve in our meandering river of life.