Sending The Message

It is a sign of the season delivered to your door, a colourful custom that informs and brightens spirits, and a tactile reminder that someone is thinking about you.

Sadly, in the age of instant communication, the Christmas card is something we see less and less of as time passes.

The practice is centered around one of the big days on the Christian calendar, but it is really something bigger. Beyond faith and religious affiliation, the seasonal card is a means of connecting with the people you know, or love, worked with, or worked for. Sometimes it’s the only time you communicate with some of those people, and often it is marked with a special stamp.

The Christmas stamp, itself, often shows how the season is celebrated.

Canada Post, each year, produces both a spiritual image and a non-denominational, seasonal series celebrating Santa or snowmen, sleigh bells and the lighter side of the season. Canada issued the first Christmas stamp in 1898; not just a first for the country, but for the world.

Earlier this year a dear friend sent me a large parcel of cancelled stamps, knowing I collect these delightful samples of art, culture and history. While I’m not an obsessive philatelist, I will admit this is but one of my somewhat nerdy passions. I have long been fascinated by the range of imagery found on stamps from around the world. I’ll also admit to being especially fond of the Christmas issues.

While society’s main method of long-distance communication has shifted progressively from handwritten cards and letters to e-mail, the object behind sending Christmas cards is the same as it was in the 15th century; a wish for good luck in the year to come.

I remember my mother, each year, parking herself at the dining room table with her address book and boxes of cards to write to lifetime friends across the globe. She enjoyed sending the cards as much receiving them. If you’ve received a Christmas card in past years, you know the warm feelings tucked inside the envelope.

Maybe this year is a good time to spread seasonal joy in the more traditional method? Why not send wishes to a few favorite people? You may even want to tuck one of those photocopied family newsletters inside the envelope, just to let everyone know what you have been up to.

It’s not sending the card that matters, as much as sending the message.

What You’ve Been Looking At

Look closely.
You may have to — depending on which screen, tablet, or device you are reading this on — because how it is presented is not how it was intended.
Things are not always as they appear.
It’s not like it used to be, where at one time the size of the text you read to obtain information and entertainment was consistent, but lately you may even have to squint to stay informed.
It used to be about the pica.
You know, the pica? Sure you do; the pica was the standard unit of measurement for the copy you read in newspapers, magazine, books. Okay, it was more industry jargon, but you, in selecting the size of font to write or print a document, made use of this measurement.
There are a dozen points to one pica, thus when you choose 12-point type, you are selecting a measurement of one pica. You get the point. As typography changed through the years, and computers replaced traditional typesetting in the 1980s, the sizing and measurement was altered slightly.
Published documents used to deal with standard sizes. Whether it was legal or letter-sized stationery, or a broadsheet or tabloid-sized newspaper, the type sizes were consistent. The traditional printed page is now less and less important as much of our reading is done on a screen of some size or another. It makes it difficult, Much of the print we read these days is simply too small.
It is becoming a problem.
When web page designers and companies create sites for the retail or service sector, they are going for a certain look. They want to attract attention and appear different than everything else out there, all the while they are selling something.
The nature of online business is to catch the eye, and in trying to do so with captivating images and layouts they are paying less and less attention to the written word and how it is read.
All too often they are selecting fonts in point sizes that may graphically look wonderful on the screen they are designed on, but translate to something insignificant when transformed to the reader’s screen
Do you ever wonder why your eyes are tired at the end of the day?
Look at what you’ve been looking at.
I recently flashed through the Apple website on my iphone. I even have the larger screen of a recent model, and still I had to “pinch” the screen at one point to increase the text size. I was unable to do so with two of the banking apps I scrolled through. I actually opted to make a transaction on my computer because the information I required was not easy to comprehend on the mobile app.
I’m quite used to reading type, and I wear progressive lenses in eyeglasses to aid my vision. Still I was having difficulties.
Often I find a virtual page has been designed with a larger type in some sections, but some of the sub text was almost incomprehensible.
Yes, you can increase the size of the text size in the settings on your mobile device, but those settings increase the overall text on the screen, and that is not always required.
Most times it is not required, nor should it be.
Micro-sized text is not limited to computer-related screens. Forever we have dealt with tiny type on a package’s ingredients, cooking instructions, or the disclaimers and finer points to a legal contract. Do you remember how difficult it was reading the liners notes and lyrics on Compact Discs?
There were times you even needed to pull out the magnifying glass.
It’s a shame that, sometimes, you might need to do the same thing on a mobile device.

Image: Testimony ©1987 Robbie Robertson

How Does It Feel From The Inside

Collar upturned, scarf scratching
against the skin, eyes tearing as furious winds
find their way, we protect ourselves
from the intermittently indifferent month
of November. As only we can.
Atmosphere duly moistened
by pent up frustration in joys not found,
unfostered friendships, and decline
in the value of our self-worth,
deceit flows freely in these darker hours.
Our hardened hearts impervious
to even favoured words, we can hardly
hear ourselves speak, and better we not.
Each question delivered during these days
cannot summon an answer; even decisions
arrived at in November will wait.
December, with its warmer spirit and
delicate snow is then a softer month
for broken promises or shattered hearts.
We count not the days, but tolerate
this month of indecision, our time instead
sorting out emotions, impositions,
and lack of interest.
How does it feel from the inside?
The bitter cold slams against our silhouette,
while souls cry out for attention, admonition,
gentle hands or comfortable shoulder.
Even young bones creak loudly against
this change of season.
Even old souls forever remember
the intolerable month of November.
© 2016 j.g. lewis