The end of every year was always marked by three rituals in our family.
The first ritual commenced around November. My father would have one of us (usually me, I think) write up a list of all the people we needed to send cards to. There were two lists: one for Christmas greetings, and one for New Year. Christmas greetings were usually for our friends, and for our overseas relatives. Strangely enough, it included a card for the guy at the stationery shop from where we bought our school books. We continued sending him the annual Christmas card long past our school days. He too sent us a card regularly, and it ceased just a few years ago due to reasons unknown.
Card-hunting was fun. We longed to buy the costlier, glossy cards, but my father would ensure we stuck to the budget. We would grumble and choose from among the less expensive ones. Once we reached home, further discussion would revolve around which card to send to whom. We had to ensure that we didn’t send the same card to the same person two years in a row, which was quite likely, since we almost always visited the same card shop, and purchased the same kind of cards. Once that was decided, then would come the laborious writing in each card, ensuring all the To and From names were included, the addresses were all written out and matched the card inside, and finally, the stamps were stuck and the envelopes sealed. This was quite a chore sometimes because of the number of cards involved. A big sigh of relief would go up at home once the cards were posted!
The second ritual involved selection of diaries. Both my father and mother are meticulous account keepers and required new diaries every year. The challenge was always to find a diary which had a full page for Sunday as well (most diaries have half-pages for Sat and Sun), and which was priced right. The colours had to be different so that they wouldn’t get mixed up. My mom always started her diary with “Happy New Year!” written on the page for Jan 1st. She would then proceed to fill up all birthdays and anniversaries. My dad collected all his diaries, and they took up shelves after shelves. Everyday they would not only work out their accounts and balance out their monies, but they would add little notes about what happened on that day. These notes were the source of much interest and amusement when read a few years later.
The last ritual was the purchase of the Bangalore Press calendar — a mandatory accessory of our household.
Sad to say, these rituals have faded away. My parents don’t buy cards any more, and neither do we. My mom has got a notebook now where she writes down the date, and anything else she deems worth noting. My dad doesn’t write much now. They don’t want diaries any more, they feel it’s a waste.
I do buy the Bangalore Press calendar every year (I just discovered they have an e-version as well!). There’s something comforting about it. I use it to mark all sorts of reminders. Buying it at the traffic signal has become my new year ritual now!
Seasons’ Greetings, and here’s wishing you a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!!