As a socio-technology fan, I am intrigued by the morphing of holiday cards and letters with new technologies. This, of course, has been changing for quite a few years. Desktoppublishing has brought us pictures of our
lives within cards and letters for a while now. They almost are like the old portrait paintings, where you were pictured with your favorite objects that described to the future who you were by the things you liked. Here, we have pictures with kids and musical instruments, families on trips, and all the trappings of “who we are” in evidenced pictures.
Holiday greetings of the past
This year, I began to get holiday digital cards around Hanukkah from my Jewish friends, which became the harbinger of the full holiday season to come. I got a lovely anime self-portrait by one of the daughters of one of my long-time friends, superimposed on their home. Charming and original – and very current tech.
Then came the deluge of emailed jpgs to my business email from a swath of companies that I’ve never done business with, reminding me that they are thoughtful and cool this time of year. Who are these companies? What did they think I would do in getting their email? “Boy, I really did need that mailing list service — I should give them a call?”
Now, as we get closer to Christmas, Iam getting all of the digitized photo cards. In the recent past, creative- and technology-focused friends have created marvelous montages and nearly homemade lovelies that were a mash up of design and digital photography. This year, other friends seem to have found companies to do this for them. LOVELY choices, but an intriguing mix of the holiday card and letter, with professional services mixed in.
Here’s my headscratcher of the season: two nag holiday letters. Two female holiday letter-writers (who shall remain nameless) took the opportunity of their holiday letter to gripe at their husbands through the text.
- Is this a strange reflection of the gender bias in the role of holiday card creator? In my family and in many of the families I know, the wife in a duo is socially expected to create the card, update the list, add the handwritten notes, and get the darned things mailed out. She, in essence, becomes the family narrator. Here, two lovely ladies have taken that narration to a deeper level, providing (not flattering) holiday context to the letter.Power grab? Acting out? Attempting to add humor? All three? 🙂
- I had thought it to be a Facebook status warping of a non-Facebook medium, but then realized that neither of the women are active Facebook users.However, has Facebook and all of this constant update dialog changed the nature of the holiday letter? For many people, I know a lot of this information about them already from their posts and photos uploaded.
I wish this topic wasn’t top-of-mind. I have several friends facing major health challenges right now, with each family following different pathways to communicate to friends and concerned loved ones. In this era of instant communication, how do you keep people apprised on the heart-wrenching changes in traumatic health issues?
Each family has been pursuing different paths:
- Google Connect with Blogger — Sadly, the most recent addition to this story is from the family of a friend this weekend. In her 40’s, she collapsed during one of her kids’ sports events, needed CPR, and has just come out of a hospital-induced coma. Her immediately family is dealing with hour-by-hour issues as well as all of the well-wishers who are very concerned. They chose Blogger/Blogspot and Google Connect for people to subscribe to updates. Just implemented, the blog already has more than 60 people signed up as Followers and it has been read by nearly 250 people. I cried just reading the fragile updates. Things are looking up, but with gigantic uncertainty on what happened or where things are going.
- Caring Bridge — This is a full service for these types of issues: http://www.caringbridge.org/. I’m aware that it exists, but have found no friends using it, at least right now. Many know of it, but have chosen other solutions.
- Plain old email — Another friend has nearly 100 people following his chemotherapy. His lovely wife is sending a bulk email out every week or so to everyone, with very detailed updates. She is aware of services like Caring Bridge, but feels this is more personal.
- Nothing — The flip side is one of my dearest friends, who is having an awful battle with complications from chemotherapy and surgery. He has stopped communicating with people and often won’t answer his phone. He….doesn’t want to both people. He….doesn’t want to keep answering the same questions. This breaks my heart. I’ve been sending him updates from my trips and adventures and occasionally get a quick note back, but he has pulled back from communication.
- Facebook — I’ve been part of quick bursts of support for sick children, car accidents, surgeries — the abrupt traumas of life — that have been shared by caregivers/loved ones on Facebook to garner support. The beauty of telling the story once and having outpourings of digital support within minutes has such power and heart-felt warmth.
None of our traumas are new. We’re all getting older and our threads of lives more fragile.
We have always picked up the phone, but the connections were one-by-one or saved for the tragic story after the fact to share in a Holiday Letter. We now live immediate, connected lives. Instead of the “reach out and touch someone” world of long-distance calls, we now have quick touches and digital gestures of warmth and support.
We don’t just share the funny games and today’s news, but we also share our hearts, health, love, and amazement at the brittle details of our worlds and lives.
May you not need this post and may you think of how to build support around others from it. And may you add other suggestions into the mix that you see in your worlds.