OPINION: Look, no pressure dear hearts but I can't help noticing - a week into December and I had received but two Christmas cards - and one was from the coal man, writes Pat Veltkamp Smith in And Another Thing.
To be fair, that is two more Christmas cards than we have sent. But does it make you wonder if our observance of Christmas is changing?
With stamps now 70c each and no discounting for cards, are we planning to email or phone instead?
Or, sensibly, limit greetings to those we cannot see this month?
I try to write NRN, no reply needed, no response necessary - the opposite of RSVP - so that we can send a word or thought without compelling others to answer. Tit-for-tat correspondence is not what it is about.
Mostly we send a card to people far away or to those we want to make contact with because we have thanks or love to send.
The automatic mail-out of cards, corporate style, and the wide spread circular letters about how well we are all doing and how busy, what with Rotary and the children completing double degrees and working for the poor in the Himalayas and our own artistry in patch-paint-plant regimes - some of that, a tad over the top, methinks.
It is not that I want Christmas traditions to change. But I do see a change and with it some of the magic can go.
At the weekend's huge shop-off between the showers at the Hideaway in Lochiel, the Christmas fete's 200 stalls offered gifts for oneself or others. Several women choose something nice, lingerie or skin-soft leather, a Christmas gift from him, and look set to wear it. Not keep it for Christmas, since it clearly was a gift? Nah, get it, use it; same goes for jewellery or perfume.
More honest than perhaps, re- wrapping for Christmas morning presentation. But at that same fete, loads of people wished happy Christmas and we in return.
Among them, Southern Artisan stallholders the James Gilmore family, whose quirky art work adds zest to any showing.
We are into Advent now, more than a preparation for Christmas, a season to rejoice in daily.
- The Southland Times