Season's Greetings, An uncommon postscript

Lengths of string had to be drawn, crisscross fashion, across the living room to accommodate more cards.

Time was when the advent of December heralded the arrival of greeting cards in numbers that were difficult to manage. It was a busy time for our friendly postman. We had to clear out our letterbox at least twice a day, lest it became clogged with the mail. By the time we got to the fourth week of December, we had enough colourful cards to adorn our mantelpiece, tabletops and writing desks.

Lengths of string had to be drawn, crisscross fashion, across the living room to accommodate more cards. It was a truly festive sight, befitting the occasion. The chore of clearing them all later in January was a right drag.

It wasn’t just the cards, mind. There were the calendars as well, some pretty spiffy ones at that, particularly those from the corporates. The ones that some of the foreign airlines sent were to die for. Superbly photographed and beautifully printed. Wall calendars, desk calendars, they came in all shapes and sizes.

Naturally this bonanza presented us with the quandary of who to give them away to, as we did not have room to display all of them at home. And when you added all the diaries that came from the banks and other organisations, our home looked more like a stationery shop.

There was no dearth of demand for these items. The domestic retinue, the neighbourhood dhobi, electrician, plumber and the postman himself, queued up for the largesse. This is not be confused with the monetary ‘bonus’, which they claimed as their birthright, over and above the abovementioned goodies. Not to forget, some of our close friends and relatives, who would put in a bid for these items a good three months in advance. And we were only too happy to oblige. Plenty of goodwill at no extra cost!

There was, however, a downside to all this Yuletide bonhomie and spirit of giving.

The demand far outstripped supply; twenty calendars in hand against forty requisitions, while fifteen diaries plays 35 orders. It was a nightmare. In the end, more than a handful of people were left red faced, and we had to countenance their sulk for months thereafter.

One is left wondering. What is it about these calendars and diaries that have folks in such a twist? And why must it become a matter of life and death to possess them? It got so that whenever November came around again, one started to break out in a cold sweat, dreading the avalanche.

In recent years, things have changed. For starters, the greeting cards have dropped to a trickle. It’s all digital now. On your computer, mobile, laptop, tablet – whatever the weapon of choice. Moving messages, by which I mean words and pictures that actually dance about on your screen, to the accompaniment of carols and Bing Crosby singing White Christmas.

As for calendars, most organisations have stopped producing them, citing the economic downturn, which seems to be a perennial winter phenomenon. Your friendly nationalised bank gives you something that passes for a calendar, in that it carries monthly dates on it, but you wouldn’t want to be seen dead with it. Even the plumber turns his nose up at it. The upside is that, you can truthfully cast your eyes heavenwards and say, “That’s all we have buddy. Tough.”

Very few people actually use printed diaries nowadays, though there are some old faithful who can’t bear to go through life without them. Again, it’s the hand held devices, which can do everything from noting your doctor’s appointments, filing your tax returns, and enabling you to read the whole of ‘War and Peace’. You can’t ask for more.

(The writer is a Bengaluru-based brand consultant, music lover and an occasional columnist)

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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