Christmas cards arrive – from friends and family in the US. Phone calls and text messages with holiday greetings – from friends and family in Italy. Hmmmm there is a cultural difference here.
One is on the time front. We plan ahead in incremental linear steps – the family foto taken on summer vacation and later transformed into a card. Then comes the computer address lists, labels, stamps and the whole thing in the mail. The message is: I have been thinking about you for some time in order to get this card organized and in the mail. You have the honor of being on my Christmas card list and are therefore in my thoughts and heart. Here, there is a grand mad rush on Christmas Eve that barely leaves time for phone calls and text messages. The message is: I am thinking of you NOW and I really want to communicate that to you NOW – immediacy is the key.
Another is on the communication front. Italians are just part of a more oral oriented society. They talk, a lot, and a written note just seems aloof and impersonal. A card represents a one-sided communication in reference to a past emotional state, not a verbal interaction like a quick call with all its warmth and urgency.
I appreciate the cards and the calls and even the text messages. It is nice to be thought of during the holidays.