Musings on holiday greetings

My not so profound thoughts about New Year, Christmas and Diwali greetings!

After getting a deluge of Xmas and New Year greetings over sms, email and LinkedIn messages, I asked myself on the last day of 2010 – “What purpose sending holiday greetings actually serve? Is it good or bad – effective or just a waste of time, energy and effort?

Thinking about the good side was simple and a straight forward one.

Sending holiday greetings is a great opportunity to show someone’s ‘human’ side, consolidate some loyalty for one’s business or simply convey a special holiday or post-holiday offer to improve one’s sales. Besides, these messages do convey I or we exist feeling.

This is what I believe millions of people and businesses, particularly boutique sized and small businesses, have in mind when they send holidays greetings. This sounds pretty good and simple in theory, right?

Well, one little unrelated incident this Xmas evening set my nut rolling to think about the greyer side of such greetings.

4.45 PM. 25th December 2010. I received following freak short message on my cell phone.

“Could not connect you over phone. Seriously hurt my ankle. Need medical treatment fast. Come back home immediately. Papa”.

Thank God this message was not for me. I was the papa who could have sent this message to my son but I was all right with no ankle damage. Besides my own papa, who lives separately with my Mom 300 Kms away from Delhi, doesn’t use a cell phone and would not have called me over an sms.

But what brought out the inhuman side of this innocent but urgent sms was the fact that I saw this message on 26th night while pressing the ‘delete” button 45th time. Whether the real recipient got back home well in time to nurse his father, I’ll never know.

Do we really read all of those Xmas and holiday greetings – be sms or emails? We’d be fooling ourselves if our answer is in affirmative. Particularly when they all have a familiar subject line like “Happy Diwali” or “Happy New Year!” which leaves us wondering what little surprises await us in the body of the message.

By delving further into the futility of sending and receiving such greetings I have come to the conclusion that the sending holiday greeting with the positive side in your mind is pointless and irrelevant. It does not ever serve the intended purpose but do create some additional work for recipients – like deleting. Moreover, some important messages like the one mentioned above may go undelivered, unread or simply marked as spam. Last year I missed an important New Year dinner invitation as I did not go through the full message but deleted it like similar others.

I think it is simply the user friendliness of modern ICT that prompts us to press the “send” button. Or is it a marketing mania created by 21st century Telecommunication companies? I really miss those few but really meaningful paper greeting cards.

So taking a mantle of change maker from this New Year’s onwards I have decided to do away with sending holiday greetings. Sorry folks who have taken time, money and effort to send me your greetings. No more greetings from me.

Holiday greetings are just as silly as those ‘silly love songs’ we have grown with.

Happy deleting!