Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Many happy return addresses

‘Tis the season to update the old address book and ensure Christmas and Hanukah greetings have a one way ticket rather then a roundtrip right back to your mailbox. Each year this is one task that is met with a variety of challenges and profanities, always taking me far longer then anticipated. Every December I make the same declaration; next year I will make address book updates throughout the year, yet this month is no different then year’s past as I sit here with my list of contacts preparing to send out cards and seriously contemplating on whether it would be easier to just say "bah humbug."

Adequately performing yearly address updates require intense person by person data analysis. From A to Z, each entry is studied in an effort to dust off the brain and remember if the contact experienced any major life changes; moved, got married, got divorced, had a child, adopted a pet. As an emotional person this task can at times be taxing. Joyous and painful moments of the year are experienced all over again with each stroke on the keyboard. Edits are most often for happy reasons with the name of a new child or spouse added to a record. The most painful moments come with the deletes; strained friendships and deaths seem so much more permanent when people no longer live in my address book. Updating an address book is like writing a new chapter in your autobiography, adding detail to the storyline of your supporting cast.

As a self-proclaimed geek I find data analysis extremely interesting and I noticed the following trend: in our twenties friend’s changed their addresses almost as frequently as their underwear. Growing responsibility equals greater stability; it is more likely a “return to sender” comes from retiring family who trade in their family homes for condos in the south then from friends with minivans and car seats. Even my own data has remained unchanged since shortly after my 30th birthday when I moved into my present home and we adopted the youngest member of our furry family.

Performing this update once a year, although time consuming, provides time to really sit down and reflect on the past twelve months and what it meant to the lives of those we love, and to our own. It is so profound to focus on the names of all the wonderful people in my life and the days when we did not have to write Christmas cards because we saw each other at parties and gatherings instead. Each year we write promises in cards, letters and emails to call and write more; easier said then done. While it is sad to see another year pass without those promises fulfilled, it is still comforting to know that the chill of winter is made more bearable by warm wishes from around the world; that is what the holiday season is all about. Long after the decorations are packed away, gifts are forgotten and holiday pounds disappear, memories of cards and letters, news and photos from friends and family remain. While 2008 cannot bring us more time to see family and friends it helps to slow things down, even if only for a day, to take a walk down memory lane and make sure your holiday wishes are not returned.

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