Friday, December 19, 2008

Redefining Tradition

This is turning into an odd Christmas. Odd because I've hardly thought about it. It seems strange that this is the first year in about 40 when I am not cooking dinner for a small army. Tom says I can make pumpkin pies, but I'll be doing that in Santa Barbara.

I skipped my boss's party, which always kicks off the "holly in my heart" season for me, when my friend came to town. Other than the Cousins Christmas, there are no other Christmas parties planned (my mother,on the other hand, has been going to one party a night, it seems!)

With all the puppies--the two that died, and the one who poops, I haven't thought much about any Christmas preparations until today.

I forget how long it takes to write Christmas cards. And I only wrote 9 of them tonight. The cards go out to people who don't have computers and can't check the on line version of the Holiday Letter. It's more difficult this year since it's harder for me to see what I'm writing. I actually held a flashlight onto the card as I wrote tonight so I could see what I was writing!

envelope.jpg (102611 bytes)
(you don't have to lick an e-card!)

Every year I think it must be the height of tackiness to post a letter on the Internet and then send e-mail to tell people where to find it.

But actually, if you think about it, it is really such a better way to do it. Stamps are 42 cents apiece now and I used to send out something like 200 cards, so right up front that's over $80 in postage alone. Add to that the cost of cards, the cost of printing up the letter and it's a very expensive proposition.

Secondly we are living in an age where the idea is to conserve natural resources and think of how much paper I'd be using to mail out 200 Christmas letters.

Finally, I just love doing the on-line letter. I start planning it toward the end of summer and sometimes work on it for weeks before it's ready to post so the family can approve it. I can use color. I can add all the photos I want and make them big enough so people can actually see them. This year I added a video (of Steve's big night at Davies Hall in San Francisco). The video was an afterthought. You can bet there will be more of them next year. I just think the year in review looks more interesting on line -- and I certainly take a bazillion times longer to do the on-line letter than I ever did for the printed version, so nobody can say I throw it up because it's easier.

But I know Emily Post would disapprove. And what's Christmas if you aren't feeling guilty about Emily Post's displeasure?

The other thing I did today was to wrap Christmas presents. Now that the pressure of getting the feature article about Stephen written has passed I could start actually thinking about the upcoming holiday.

I didn't have a lot to wrap (yet), but they were all big, so it took lots of room to find a space to put the big boxes. It's nice having them all done. So far.

I still have to buy the "Santa presents." We decided this year that since so many in the family are having money problems (and who isn't?) that instead of choosing names to buy one person a "good" gift, everyone would write their chosen person a letter telling him or her how you feel about that person. And we will add to that a gift not to exceed $5.

I was able to get my gift put together and the letter should come easily, but Walt and I always add a "Santa Gift" for everyone as well as the "get a BIG present" gift. I have to admit that it's been kind of nice that I can't drive because I don't have the pressure to be out scouring the malls looking for the perfect thing. Walt and I will go...somewhere (probably the outlet mall because it's huge and the choices are more varied) and do it all in one day. We leave Tuesday for Santa Barbara, so it had better be soon!

I realize that we have been in the process of redefinining Christmas family traditions for a few years now. We still haven't quite settled into a yearly routine and I doubt that we will do it this year either, but we have all sorts of new things to try and it will all be fine, one way or another.

2 comments:

Laura Morefield said...

I think your online, well-crafted, annual Christmas letter is perfectly correct in today's world. Emily Post be darned!

Bev Sykes said...

Thank you, my dear!