When did we stop doing Christmas the normal way and start doing it the online way? We send Christmas cards online, (how many do you have hanging up this year? My 6 year old has more than we do as a family), we "elf" ourselves then send it to friends or put it on Facebook and we tweet and/or text "mry Xms 2 U" thinking that this makes up for saying the real thing.
I was at the park yesterday with a bunch of my close Sydney friends and packing up, knowing I was unlikely to see any of them before Christmas, instead of giving them the warm "Merry Christmas" hug that I wanted to and would normally have, I just thought, “aah well, I'll send them all a note on Facebook and drop them a quick text on the day”. What would you rather receive – hug or text?
Do we use these new "social networking" tools to put off the warm and lovely “normal” social interactions because we are losing touch with intimacy between friends a little? Do we think we can be more "intimate" online because we're not facing or touching each other and that it's safer to say things this way? I dunno. But I do know that at Christmas, birthdays, births or god forbid, deaths, online friendships and gestures ain't good enough. This is the time for the real McCoy!
I have been living in Sydney for almost three years, and this Christmas, we have been lucky enough to have received two Christmas cards from friends back in New Zealand and zero phone calls. I've done my bit and called or sent cards with photos of my family. Ok, maybe I haven't written the generic Christmas letter but then I've never liked those things anyway. So this year folks, it's a record of almost zilch contact from life long friends back home. Actually maybe I'll kid myself and put the lack of Christmas "yes we're still friends and I'm thinking of you with love at this time when we tend to think of people with love" 'ness down to the 24 hour postal strike. But maybe that's a bit of a shield.
Fact is that our reliance of the online world is making us a little sloppy and well, lazy. And I’m absolutely no angel; I’ve done my fair share of online pseudo friendship gestures.
So this year I will still ring my oldest and dearest friend and warble “Felice Navidad” across the Tasman to her, as I've done every year since forever. Apart from last year when I posted a You Tube clip of the song onto Facebook.
Enough. Let’s bring back more than just the spirit of Christmas past.