By the late 90s, the Christmas cards were really getting out of hand. I was sending out about 60 every year! I meet extraordinary people everywhere I go (and all I seem to do is go…) and I tend to hang on to them. I actually used to write notes in my cards, some of them pretty long, but I finally caved and started doing form letters around then. It was taking days to write all the notes, and I couldn’t write with a pen anymore anyway, after a decade of keyboarding. I’d include a couple of pictures and a favorite recipe. Some of my friends teased me for going all Martha. But it was the next best thing to sending everybody homemade cookies…
In 2000, because I felt I was single-handedly destroying the world’s forests (and because I’m a bit of a geek), I sent out one last set of cards, in which I said something like “This is the last Christmas card you’re getting from me, I’m doing an annual Christmas update web page, here’s the URL if you want to know what’s going on with me, check back every year for the latest.” It was liberating!
We all have e-mail. But despite how easy it is to communicate by e-mail, how often do we really use it to share our thoughts and feelings in a meaningful way? It’s no easier than letter-writing, really, which none of us have the time for these days. By the same token, we don’t really e-mail people about the little events that flavor our daily lives either. Maybe it’s because we think not everybody will care that we got a new puppy, or redecorated a kitchen. Maybe we don’t want to seem like we’re bragging so we don’t e-mail everybody a picture of our kids’ latest masterpieces. Don’t want to clog their inboxes, don’t want to be intrusive. Or maybe you do want to share your deep thoughts and mundane pleasures, but doing so by e-mail, or even by phone, is too much of a pain. The thing is, if it’s important to you, it’s important to the people who care about you. I want to know!
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to wake up tomorrow to 85 e-mails with pictures of the treehouse you built, your kid’s Halloween costume, the branch that fell through your roof in the ice storm… Although I’d love to see them. There are just better ways to go about it.
For over six years now, my friends and loved ones have been able to pop into my world at their leisure through my website (and now my blog) to find out where my head is, what I’ve been up to; see the disastrous birthday cake I made my stepson, the fall leaves in Paris; read my poems… My son, to my utter amazement, put me on his MySpace friend list so I can subscribe to his blog. I was so honored and moved that he would let me into his bright, exuberant, sensitive, and sometimes tormented 21-year-old head.
So what is my Christmas wish? I wish my special people would share! Teach yourself how to make a website (Tip: If you sign up for a web design class (community college is cheapest, online classes are easiest), you can get the software for half price). Is that photo of a sublime sunrise from Haleakala sitting in a folder on your computer? Open a Flickr account. Need to vent? Rant? Got funny stories to tell? Poems? Start a blog.
It’s soooo easy to do these days that there’s no excuse not to. I’ve wished this for a very long time. Now that I live in Paris and my people are far away, I want it even more.
I want to pop in on you!
Just for fun: Here are some creative ideas for what to do with all the Christmas cards you get from those last-century types.