|The latest Christmas card that my employer gave me for sending to my new sources.|
ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ
OVER THE past several Christmases, I had accumulated greetings cards supplied to me by my employer which we, the staff at The National newspaper, were supposed to send to our news sources.
I felt no spirit firing me up to send any, so I just shoved them into whatever discreet space I could find at home.
Two weeks ago, I again received a batch of 10 Christmas cards designed by our graphic artist.
The artwork looked great, depicting ethnic Papua New Guinea which is quite rare in the midst of western greetings cards that usually flooded local shops here in Port Moresby every year. It was something I would be proud to send, especially overseas.
But after the same quick look I gave the stuff the previous years, I shoved them fast into my workstation drawer, hoping I would never look at them again.
I didn’t know why so suddenly I lost interest in sending Christmas greetings when I only have a short list to remember by this Yule.
Let’s see … there’s one for my second ex-wife in Hollywood, California, one for my first ex-wife in Vallejo, CA, one for my only son, also in Vallejo with his family, one for my sister in McKay, Queensland, Australia, one for my brother and his wife in Yokosuka, Japan, one for my 11-year-old daughter in Dinalupihan, Bataan, one for our youngest sister in Oman, one each for my mom and two married siblings in Pasig City, Philippines.
Blame my detached behavior on the Internet. Over the years, the great wide world web, a.k.a. the www.com, has offered thousands of designs from which I could pick my trip and send it without having to stand up from my chair.
This has eliminated a trip to the main Post Office, thus sparing me from possible attack by raskols, who, lately, have been very active not only in Port Moresby but all over Papua New Guinea, maybe because of the fast-changing weather brought in by the holiday season that smelled of Australia. Very convenient, indeed, this www.com.
And yet, my mood has told me there’s no point sending one, not even to my loved ones. Was it just plain laziness or I really just didn’t care? The advent of short text messaging – Yahoo messenger, Facebook and the cellphone texting – has practically wiped out my urged to send hard copies of holiday greetings.
By just key-ing on my cellphone or Facebook line like “Hey, Tej! Merry Xmas … what’s up…?” or a cellphone message like “Xmas has yet to kam 2dis part of dworld … eniway … hepiholiday frm PNG … I misU all …!” and press-sending it, I knew I had expressed my pent-up emotion for the season and that’s about it all! (Tej refers to my son Juan Paulo aka weekend rap artist Primo Leone.)
And I know too, that shortly after that, if my loved ones’ cellphones are on, or they are on-line with their Facebook hanging on their screen, they would quickly get my drift for the holidays.
No need to wait and wait for weeks for my greetings cards to hit them from the mail. And if I am lucky, they could get back to me pronto for a reply, which could be as weird as it could be, in matters of seconds.
As it is, expressing how one feels during the holiday season has changed over the years and the electronic greeting cards could attest to this.
I’m pretty sure right this very moment, millions of e-card are burning away and criss-crossing the www.com as if e-designs are to run out in a few hours and every Internet savvy is trying to grab the last of the season’s electronic artistry.
Thus, the hard copy Christmas cards seemed destined to gather dust on the shelves and their prospects of being picked up by the shoppers are now just too little to happen.
But I could be wrong here, because some studies done recently revealed that the number of traditional Christmas cards sent have remained at their high levels achieved a few years back. Maybe, those who sent them preferred the old-fashion way of feeling the spirit. So, that’s fine with me.
Unlike the Americans and Europeans who threw away Christmas cards as soon as the season expired, Filipinos have the habit of stashing them away in a shoe box, to be resurrected on the next Christmas to grace the Christmas tree.
This has been a common practice in the Philippines since the western way of expressing oneself during the season became fashionable among Filipinos, who usually ended up with not just a few pieces of the greetings cards received and are being kept in their shoe boxes. That way, the used greetings didn’t add up to rubbish pollution in the neighborhood.
In England, overflowing of trash cans and extra bags of rubbish were a common sight in the streets after Christmas.
And of course, discarded Christmas cards dominate them all. Of the 150 million cards and packets delivered each day during the pre-Christmas period, it was estimated that one billion Christmas cards could end up in trash cans across the UK.
In the US, Americans send about 1.9 billion Christmas cards to friends and loved ones every year, according to Hallmark research.
And for the first time a few years ago, some environmental groups in the UK and the US urged the people to recycle Christmas cards they received during the 2006 holidays by sending them over to designated collection depots across the two nations.
The idea was to spare the community of rubbish out of discarded Christmas greeting cards and to spare some trees from being felled to become pulp for paper making, although most of paper materials are now sourced out from modern tree farms.
The campaign gets activated again first week of January 2011 to intercept millions of greetings card that could end up in street corner rubbish bins all over UK and US.
I think, the amassed used greetings cards would be pulped to became brand-new paper materials that could be used to make new greetings cards again.
Incidentally, the British and the Americans are also being urged to send electronic Christmas greetings cards through the Internet instead of sending Christmas greetings cards.
This way, the amount of waste pollution – from chemicals to factory effluents –that could be produced during the manufacture of paper materials for new greetings cards could be reduced to a great degree, and thus sparing rivers and tributaries from choking on toxic chemical wastes.
And to spare some trees from being hacked down.
Suddenly, I realized that I have unwittingly involved my self in this eco-friendly practice by scoring zero-greetings card this Christmas.
So far, so good. But then, it doesn’t mean I’m a rock, unfeeling of my Christian upbringing in which the birthday of Jesus Christ matters most – the reason for all these delirious, prolonged festivities.
So I’d say loud and clear: “Have a Blessed Christmas Day … may we find inner peace in Baby Jesus from here on … after all, we deserve a big one for being fair and honest with our neighbors.”
And by all means, have a very Merry Christmas!