Every year it’s the same, an email from my PA asking if we will be sending out Christmas cards again. And this year, like every year I detect a well-disguised sigh when I answer “of course, why wouldn’t we?” It’s not that my PA is cold hearted, you could even say she is concerned about saving paper and ink, but mainly, it is just so much easier to create an e-mailing list and to send a fun image via Outlook – job done: less time, lessmoney, less pollution, less everything.
So why do I lag behind? Why don’t I move with the times? It’s like the feeling of a fountain pen nib on a piece of high quality handmade paper, or a diamond stylus tracking a vinyl groove on a 12” LP, it’s not nostalgic, it’s just nice. For me, there’s something special about certain analog processes that bits and bytes can never replace.
Tell me honestly: You are sitting at your office desk, when someone brings you an envelope; you open it carefully and pull out a beautifully printed card with a hand written message inside. You put it on your desk or office cupboard. Isn’t that more pleasant than opening an electronic attachment (assuming that your company spam filter hasn’t blocked it from you in the first place)?
There’s another reason I like Christmas cards. I like the ritual of sitting with my two business Partners signing and passing the cards around a crowded table, laughing and chatting in a way that no other Partner meeting ever induces. It’s a reminder that we are approaching another end of year together. Each of us getting a little older, the pile of cards getting a little higher, happily in line with the growth of The Partnership. There are two budgets that are untouchable in The Partnership, the Associate’s Christmas party and Christmas cards. I suppose one day it will change, one day financial commonsense will take my place but until then I am just happy the way things are.
Traditions are often irrational processes, sponsored by nostalgia and a shared feeling of continuity. I am writing this blog on a flight from Sofia to Brussels, I am leaving a beautiful city, decked in a light powdering of snow, its tired buildings and squares looking more lovely than ever animated with Christmas lights and decorations. And when I land I will find a myself in a wet and windy city that is pretending to be modern, sophisticated and forward looking with its artificial Christmas tree surrounded by pinewood huts trying to create a totally other image. What complex things we humans are?
Wishing you a very happy and peaceful Christmas holiday,