Greeting Cards : A nostalgia

Festival used to be playing, visiting houses of relatives and friend in towns. We used to cycle across town to meet them. What do you do across Diwali and Pongal?  For Pongal in past week, we engaged in “flying a kite” activity with neighbour for close to 3 hours, a cherishing experience. 2 of our kites got broken/cut, correcting entangled thread and the children experienced a new activity.

Today, every one shares in their social networks festival name with “Happy” before the same and continue to perform daily activities. There are supposed to be special T.V programs that they watch for the whole day. Structure of the programs telecasted during the previous festival seem to be repeated. One is able to judge 80% of the programs that are going to be aired upon.

With my 2016 question “Where I spend my time? Creating? Consuming?” to myself and my children, I have tried to distance from social networks and also reduce T.V viewing. The more I reduce these distractions, I was getting pulled to memories of what I did in my younger days. Feeling that memories are fading with passage of time, I decided to write the memories here.

When I was 15 years old, there were festivals like Pongal and Diwali. These were days of no TV, no WhatsApp or no Facebook or no smart phones. What did we do?

One thing I remember well was sending a Greeting Card to friends and relatives.  Initially, these cards used to be post cards. The post cards could be categorized in to one of the below categories

  • Picture of Hindu Gods like Ganesh, Saraswathi and so on.
  • Pictures of Leaders like Gandhi or Bharathiyar
  • Picture of Nature,
  • Picture of what is done during festival, burst crackers, cook Pongal and so on.

We did not spend a lot of money to send costly greeting cards. Lot of them costed less than a rupee and we did not have access to Archie greeting cards, costly ones.   Sometimes, as children, we used to brag with friends of the greeting card we received and were curious to view the greeting cards they received. We also used to count the number of greeting cards received, which was more considered as something to be proud of. Giving greeting card was more a way to keep engagement with friend open.

As my father was a clean officer, every contractor had no chance to engage with him on regular days. Festivals was easy excuse to come and provide gifts at my home and that included calendars, diaries and greeting cards. Keeping best ones with us, the remaining gifts was shared/given away to known persons, includes relatives, neighbors and friends.

At college in 1996, sharing greeting cards during festivals was popular activity. Cards were Rs 5 or 10. Exchange of festival greeting cards between persons of other sex was accepted as okay by parents. I have given greeting cards to friends and some girls I liked and have received back greeting cards also.  Archie cards has arrived and was reserved for special people only.  At 75 years old, I observe that my father continues to use some of unused diaries that were left in house from 1990’s.

Selecting a Greeting card was an activity itself. You search different shops for cards. Price, picture on card and words written in the card helped us to decide on the purchase. Lot of time you like the picture and not the words, or you like the words and not the picture. Used to feel cool of the choice given by Archie Cards that enabled us to search books to come with a quote that was more apt.

Today youngsters share on Facebook and we need to remember that these messages are forgotten over time. Also Facebook can help you remind what you did and year back.  On other hand, I was at my parent’s place and looking at my college books, I found greeting cards received when I was at college and it brought back to my memory old days at Neyveli and at Guindy.

In 1998, in my first job, a Neyveli friend asked me to see CRY greeting cards in my office during my visit. I remember of have selling close to 200 cards. The cards arrived to my office address by post in Bangalore. I sold the cards across my office and then send money by Demand Draft to them. Just cannot believe the trust and faith put by people. No one asked to verify identity.

With e-cards, is greeting card forgotten? No I did not. I have failed to move to e-card and continue to leverage greeting card.  My giving greeting cards has reduced.  Happy that all department stores continue have a small place with greeting cards today too.

  • Some times for birth day of family member, one card gets bought by me and we all sign the card and provide the same.
  • My kids make cards or provide paper with a design and writing across Father’s Day and my birthday and I save all of them with me.

Across children’s birthdays, I observe that the gifts are more of toys and rarely see a  greeting card. Selecting greeting card can be interesting activity for children and would ask parents to engage their children in that. For birth day boy/girl, the toys would go away in few years, while greeting card would remain as memory for long.

Another concept prevalent during my school concept of PenPals and few of today’s folks might have heard that.  Pen Pals are persons, you may have never meet and or who you met and have left to live in far way part of country or a different country. Both of you communicate via postal mail.  Doing search on Wikipedia also leads to the Wikipedia page about Pen pals . There was a classmate who was in communication for some time as PenPal, after he left our town.  Letter correspondences are about information about your culture & festivals and also learning about their culture & festivals, a mutual information sharing activity. Lot of time people corresponded first few times and then both contact change address and the contact gets broken. But letters are sweet memories for long time.