Thoughts on genre, language, grammar, and other
rhetorical and linguistic norms
rhetorical and linguistic norms
I’m late with my blog this week, which seems appropriate for today’s topic since I’m almost always writing my holiday greeting cards at the last minute.
Hanukah has just begun (Happy Hanukah to those of you who celebrate it!)
Christmas is two weeks away (Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it!)
Kwanzaa follows right after Christmas (Happy Kwanzaa to those of you who celebrate it!)
The Solstice arrives next week (Happy Solstice to those of you who celebrate it!)
And to all of you who celebrate other holidays this time of year that I missed, and to those of you who celebrate none of these holidays, Seasons Greetings!
How we greet each other at this time of year has been a bone of contention, to coin a phrase. Some claim we’re stealing their Christmas if store clerks greet customers with “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Old-fashioned office Christmas parties have generally become holiday parties.
It might complicate things a bit, though, if we noticed that the word “holiday” originates from “holy day.” So I’m not sure changing to “holiday” is as inclusive as we might want (yes, meanings change, and most people don’t associate “holiday” with “holy day” anymore, but I like noticing such things).
When I write my holiday cards (which I have still been doing on paper with some old friends and family members, in spite of the more eco-friendly online alternatives), I start with a selection of cards with different greetings, including always one “Seasons Greetings” for those whose preferences I don’t know or whose non-religious status I do know.
But I’ve never done a photo Christmas/Holiday card. I’ve received some wonderful ones over the years, especially from my artist friend Pat who incorporates the family headshots into some wonderfully funny painted winter scenes every year. And I’m always happy to see family photo cards. They help me keep track of the growth of children and families who I don’t see as much over the years.
Those family cards are also a bone of contention for some, and this year I’ve learned about a twist on them on Twitter—single people posting their family’s couple-loving, single-isolating family Christmas cards. Family photos full of joy for all the couples in the family, plus the one lone single person off to the side.
Supposedly, the originator of pointing out the single-person-in-the-family-Christmas-card was @kbobby_22, who posted his own family photo.
For those of you not on Twitter, or if my Twitter images don't load, Lisa Gutierrez wrote a story for the Kansas City Starfeaturing some of the best photos. In the original, each couple is holding a sign--parents' sign saying "Excited," surrounded by a couple whose sign says "Expecting," another whose sign says "Engaged," and @kbobby_22 with a sign saying "Egg Salad." In Emily Seawright's homage, her own sign says just "Emily."
Sure enough, even family Christmas cards are loaded with meanings we don't always notice until someone points it out. My favorites in this new Twitter meme are the ones who post their old, ordinary, usual family Christmas cards, no signs added, only now we can see it. Now we can see the happy couples in the family embracing and embraced, with the one solo member stuck on the side.
Tweets are showing the humor in the situation, though the sting obviously still remains. It's not fun being the egg salad instead of the engaged or expecting or excited. But folks are clearly having fun with it, many using it to celebrate their singledom.
Once we notice something--an underlying statement in a family photo--we can choose what to do with that noticing. I love the humor that Emily Seawright and @kbobby_22 show in their tweets, and the many others who've followed. Especially because, once we notice something, we can't un-notice it.
Now I see it everywhere--the family shots with the single person to the side, behind the couch, hands in pockets instead of around someone. Nothing malicious intended there, I'm pretty sure. But boy, it does show us something about how we see people.
So there's another complication of holiday greeting cards to pay attention to. Include the holiday--or non-holy-day--that the recipient celebrates. Take family photos that show just how much you value every individual in the group.
I still haven't sent out my cards, but there will be no photo again this year. There's another thing to notice--who does and doesn't use family photos for Christmas cards. Does it depend on having children, whether newborn or adult?
So much to notice, once you start noticing. It's exhausting. As if we don't already have enough challenges this time of year, just getting things done. But noticing--and pointing out to others what you've noticed--is how change happens. Lots of noticing and calling out going on around the world right now. Notice it, tell others about it, change it.
Meanwhile, we can laugh at the single people statement photos on Twitter. We can send out our cards, paper or electronic, with appropriately chosen messages. And we can enjoy each other's company face to face, no photo needed, and embrace one and all.
So here's to my readers this season. I notice you, and I wish for each of you time spent with people who make you feel good about yourself and peaceful time with yourself.