WE media types mean well. We really do.
That’s why we’re so quick to tell you exactly what to do and
say and serve and buy ’round this time of year.
That’s why we’re so quick to tell you exactly what to do and say and serve and buy ’round this time of year.
Why, just the other day the Globe and Mail broke it down for those of us who thought we would just fill out and mail Christmas cards, as per usual, to friends with whom we want to be in touch at least once a year. Well, it turns out that there are friend categories, each of which requires a different approach. Life will apparently be much simpler for us if we figure out where to slot each contact on our greetings lists.
Telephone calls, for example, are evidently now reserved for long-lost pals who’ve ditched us for Europe, and the couples we’re schmoozing in an effort to replace them. After all, there’s nothing people like better during the busy holiday season than Gabby McGab calling for a good old-fashioned catch-up right at the dinner hour.
Meanwhile, the Globe reports, E-cards are for our “favourite IM peeps,” whatever that means, as well as our clients and “cubicle mates.” You won’t believe my gaucheness -- I had thought simply turning around and saying “Merry Christmas, eh?” before you left the office would do. But then, I haven’t worked in a cubicle for years. Now we know why.
Meanwhile, “personalized e-mail or texts, Facebook messages or direct messages on Twitter” are considered best for “your social networking crew, people you’ve never met in person or talked to on the phone.” This strikes me as a pretty new category. I’m sorry -- I have to ask: If you’ve never met someone or talked to them on the phone, why offer them holiday greetings at all? Are they sitting pathetically at their computers, staring at their screens, willing you to write “Merry Christmas, number 489 on my Twitter feed”?
If so, you have some seriously troubled social networking homies.
But here’s some relief from your overworked typing finger. According to the Globe, a mass text or e-mail is plenty good enough for your “tweeps” (yikes), “marginal Facebook friends” and the other dregs of humanity who may be cluttering up your address book. Mass texts, in other words, are perfectly fine for those people about whom you care enough to send your very least.
As the Globe’s New Brunswick-based etiquette advisor remarked, in this situation, “You’re really sharing a thought you have of yourself.” The Globe’s suggested mass messages to these pseudo-intimates include “Happy Holidays, my beautiful friends” -- whoever you are -- or “I’m thinking of you this Christmas,” whatz-yer-face.
You only need to send a real greeting card – preferably hand-picked, to suggest it’s heartfelt -- to your parents, your in-laws and your “closest confidantes” (though if you’re Tiger Woods, I wouldn’t). Your boss and most valued clients can be sucked up to in this way, as well. It’s lovely to see our mums and dads lumped in with our business contacts. I guess they’re all people who’ve benefited us somehow – though in our parents’ case, possibly not lately. (Feel free to strike them off the list.)
The Globe – whose counsel here, you’ll agree, is invaluable -- advised us to send these dear ones a “classic, crisp” card with “a genuine pen scrawl.” Well, I started to cry right there. I had signed all my cards in blood, and no follow-up bouquet in the world was going to make up for that.
At least I hadn’t done the really embarrassing thing – “Sending out a mass year-in-review holiday letter… Impersonal and self-gratifying.” I think the Globe meant self- aggrandizing, as the practice of boasting about oneself and one’s family hardly seems bawdy, debauched, libidinous or unchaste, just a few of self-gratifying’s synonyms. It’s interesting to see, however, that the year-in-review note is considered even lowlier in terms of Christmas greetings than the Facebook status update. Too deeply personal, perhaps.
A recent Saturday Globe had columnist Leah McLaren revealing the fact that she’s a WASP who doesn’t send Christmas cards, which she claimed was one of the earmarks of being a WASP. She claimed to have been put off the habit, if indeed she had ever had it, by the fact that sending Christmas cards is now commercial, the province of her pizza shop and carpet cleaner. When such outfits send her their happiest wishes for the holidays, she griped, they are simply attempting to keep her business. “A brimming rolodex will not invite you over for an egg nog on Christmas Eve,” McLaren pointed out, though I would hazard a guess that neither would most of her, or our, Facebook friends.
At the same time, McLaren wrote, she has no need for the annual update she used to get from you, if you’re one of her most remote chums, because she now learns what you’re up to daily on Facebook. “Trust me,” she wrote. “I’m already up to speed on how perfect your life is.” She also doesn’t want pictures of your children gussied up in Santa or elf-related accessories. I smell issues.
Anyway, not sending cards is much better for the environment, she concluded, now transformed from lapsed WASP and middle-aged slacker to righteous crusader against insincerity, commerce and environmental waste.
Hey, Ms. McLaren, whatever. Do send them. Don’t send them. I don’t care. But if you’re going to send them, send them properly, Globe and Mail style. Don’t lavish a friendly word or an attractive stamp on anybody who isn’t worth your time, who isn’t going to give you a bonus or name you in their last will and testament. That’s what the Globe says, and the Globe is based in Toronto, so what the Globe says, I do.
Except in terms of its recipe for roast portobello mushrooms with chestnut stuffing -- whether vegans are coming for Christmas dinner or not. Obviously, there are limits.
By the way, readers, you and I don’t know each other, do we? Happy Holidays, my beautiful friends. I’ll be thinking of you this Christmas, whatever your name is.