The most common thing for me to say at this point would be: "Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2011"
Of course in Serbia the order would be reversed. And the words would be different. And Christmas may not be mentioned. And the year may be omitted for practical purposes. Otherwise it would be almost the same. Practically speaking.
A few years ago, I decided that I would not be sending Christmas cards through the post. The reasons for this were quite practical. The first relates to the sad state of my database - thousands of names, cell phones, and emails, but very few updated postal addresses. The second has to do with the fact that these Christmas cards, from a business point of view, can represent a full time occupation to several people in the office for several days - the choosing, the sorting, the signing, the enveloping, the addressing, the stamping, the posting.
The fourth reason is that once the dozens of manhours are spent on the cards, they arrive at their destination whereupon they are viewed for approximately three-point-oh-seven seconds and either immediately recycled or added to a massive collection of other cards, dissolving into a mosaic of printed sentimentality.
I read a study done by the Royal Mail in the UK that estimates that in Britain alone, over one billion cards are sent through their auspices during the holiday season. 150 million each day. Average life span per card: three days.
I also met a woman whose full-time job it was to choose the images used in her organization's Christmas cards. She could bask in the satisfaction of a good job well done for 0.82% of the year. The rest of the time she was out trying to do better next year.
The fifth reason (and here the list starts floating into metaphysics, psychology, and other intangibles) has to do with the concept of Christmas/New Year's greetings per se. The reality is that within the circle of one's acquaintances one has ample opportunity all year long acknowledge their existence and say "hello" from time to time. Nice as it is to receive mail in the post (something that has almost become obsolete in the shadow of the Internet), these cards do not usually constitute letters. Their personalization comes from the choice of pre-printed greeting and the placement of the signature. I have even received a couple of cards with rubber-stamped signatures.
Where is the sentiment there?
Now it really should be said here that I am not nay-saying the idea of getting back in touch, remembering the long-lost and out-of-contact - on the contrary, I believe in this and regret that I do not do it more often.
So I offer this Practical Season's Blogging. With all of my best wishes to anyone who might stumble across it. It is environmentally feasible, instantly deliverable, disturbingly endurable, and conveys the mish-mash of both reasoning and sentiment.
"Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2011."