So, in our house it is my job to write the Christmas cards; well, to be fair I write 97% of them, and my partner reluctantly writes the rest because to him this is a chore he could do without. Over the years it has become a bit of a comforting ritual for me. Let me set the scene: it’s the second weekend in December (must be sure to catch the second class post deadline!) with Christmas music playing, mulled wine on the table, maybe a mince pie, my favourite fountain pen, a selection of carefully selected cards and my trusty old address book with all the crossings out and pencil-scribbled addresses – you see, I just don’t trust my loved ones’ contact details to be only in the Cloud.
I have been thinking a lot this week about reconciliation gestures – or, as I prefer to call them, reconnecting gestures – both personally and in my work with parents. To me, these gestures build a foundation for change in relationships: they may look like chocolate bars on a child’s pillow or notes in school bags or slices of cake, but that is just a disguise. In reality, they are bricks which together build a secure wall of love connecting the giver to the receiver, cementing relationships with a trowel full of parental presence.
This had me thinking about why the sending and receiving of cards at Christmas is enduring despite the digital world of emails, texts and Instagram and why I persist with this myself. And I realised that what I am doing is reconnecting with the people who are important to me in a way that says ’I am thinking of you’, ‘I am holding you in mind’, ‘ you are important to me even though I have not seen you for over ten years’ and therefore I am sending you this small, real-life symbol of my care in order to remake a connection with you.
At the same time, I am practising self-care: this ritual fulfils something in me, and I get as much from the process as hopefully, the card receiver does. Come on, how many times do you get to use a foundation pen AND drink warm red wine at 2pm on a Saturday whilst listening to the Power of Love by Frankie Goes to Hollywood??
Seriously though: reconciliation gestures hold something for both the parent and young person/child: they are opportunities for the parent/carer to feel like the loving, warm and compassionate parent they always thought they would be and for the young person to experience feeling special and cherished in a way they have always wanted.
So when you reluctantly pick up your Christmas cards this year, remember you are participating in a ritual which joins generations and reinforces the connections with your loved ones, friends and colleagues, strengthening them far beyond Boxing Day. And all this for the price of a second class stamp.
In the words of Frankie ’make love your goal’.
Happy Holidays everyone!
Written by: Jo Buchmuller | PartnershipProjects Associate