Family & Friends

You’ve Got Mail

This holiday season, we asked our writers to share with us ideas around “The New Christmas” — how they are reinventing the holiday season in new ways, in personal or public rituals, with new traditions or with a return to long lost ones, with broader definitions of family and community. We asked them to share with us how they are moving away from the “consumerism” culture of the season, what “shifts” are happening in the ways they celebrate the season, and how they are engaging their friends and family in these new traditions. — Eds.

 

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In my work as a creative consultant, I help companies and individuals find new avenues to get to where they want to go.  In my personal life, I enjoy creativity as part of the way I have chosen to live life joyfully.  December is a great month for me because my West Village, NYC apartment becomes a veritable Santa’s workshop. I have a window full of Christmas lights and tables covered with boxes, ribbons, paper, stacks of cards, envelopes, pens and stamps.

I remain attached to the process and sentiment of choosing and designing note cards in this world of instant messaging, emailing, texting and over sharing.  I send my carefully collected cards with handwritten notes to friends, family, the many children I know, and the people who make my life better–work colleagues, doctors and their staff, salon support and everyone in between.  I have a hard time passing a stationery store or boutique without stopping to browse for a card that will be sent to someone who is marking an important moment, celebrating a triumph, or dealing with one of life’s challenges.

I began making my own cards years ago when I couldn’t find just the right one “over the counter.” I found that the US Post Office offered a fabulous variety of unique stamps that help me add that additional spark of personality when finishing the envelope for mailing.

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Children adore getting an envelope addressed to them.  Because they watch their parents open packages and cards, mail for them seems to be an exclusively adult event. That is, until they hear the magic words, “Hey Leo, you have a card in the mail from Roe!”  And, I love getting a video that documents the child’s glee as the envelope is opened with curiosity or torn open with excitement.

Of course the holiday season is often very stressful.  The thought of choosing and sending just the right card with a personal message for important people on the holiday list could be overwhelming with our daily work and family obligations.  However, I find the experience to be an opportunity for quiet reflection and a “visit of sorts” with my extended family of friends.

Mail used to take months to cross oceans or weeks to arrive by pony express.  Those letters were treasured by many who received them. There were letter boxes where secrets were kept and tied with a silk ribbon.  Letters to be read again and again to experience the emotions created by connection.

Now we have all manner of cards sent in a paperless way.  A cyber communique is certainly better than no thought at all, but I like to imagine that my paper notes are welcomed with a smile and sometimes saved as well.

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