It's that time of the year when we are almost ready to bid adieu to an old year and welcome a brand new year.
Soon we will enter 2020 and we will be flooded with uncountable new year wishes- especially on our WhatsApp and Facebook accounts.
People will send us digital or e-greeting cards and we will laugh and smile (and blush too)...
Amid this and merrymaking, will we have a minute or two to sit and think about what went missing this year- something that we have been given a miss in the last decade!
‘What?’ some of you must be asking and some may be just smiling a little after realising that missed part!
Are we not missing the child in us and the numerous colourful greeting cards we used to make when a new year kept knocking on the doors!
As a child, New Year’s time for me had always been special.
As the calendar turned to December, the child in me used to get busy with my chart papers, colours, pencils, and erasers.
I used to put in my entire creative efforts in making a New Year’s greeting card- something that has been replaced in this age by e-cards and messages
I miss that mess a lot today, and I am sure many of you out there feel the same!
“Making greeting cards was fun. Those days gifting greeting cards were ‘the most’ important thing for any child," recalls Sugandha, a Guwahati-based media professional.
"I used to make dozens of cards...one for my best friend, one for my favourite teacher, for my brother and more...," she adds further.
"Even if I could not meet the deadline, I used to visit the cards’ gallery and buy some cards. I loved browsing through the cards,” she added.
“But choosing ‘the perfect’ card from these shops wasn’t easy. I never exactly knew which one was the best and the most unique,” she further said.
One card, one message, one special person and a bagful of happiness; New Year’s time meant happiness galore!
Sending cards during the new year was an absolute craze, at least for me.
When I bought my first film camera in 2004, I took out prints of a particular photograph that I had clicked and posted it to my friends and family as a greeting card in 2005.
"I will steal your camera," I remembered my sister's friend telling me after she received the card.
I was in the Seventh Heaven!
It was not that I only enjoyed gifting cards, but receiving the same was equally delightful.
Come December 31, and I was sure our very own Bhagawati Da would be the first person to drop at our place with a card.
If by any chance he failed to show up on December 31, he would never miss January 1.
Receiving the year’s first greeting card from him has been a special feeling, even today.
Earlier, it was a hobby of many people to send cards during the new year to friends and relatives who lived in far-off places.
Here, Kolkata's Subhendu Das' face comes to my mind vividly.
I had met him during a train journey from New Delhi to Guwahati.
He had this unique hobby of collecting everyone's address he met on the train and sending them greeting cards during the new year.
“I don’t know if we will meet again or not, but I can still drop a card during the festive seasons, especially New Year’s time,” he said as he took my address.
This chain of sending cards, which began in 2002, continued till 2008 and then suddenly it stopped... I hope I will receive his card again someday!
“I think I was in the fifth or sixth standard when I and my sister literally competed against each other for giving the year’s first card to our parents," recalls Suparna Das, a Guwahati-based architect.
"We used to hide our designs from each other and stay awake till the midnight of December 31 and as the clock entered into the New Year, we would rush to our parents’ room to gift them the cards. Well, we never won though," she added as she giggled.
The advent of technology has not only affected the tradition of sending a greeting card, but it has also affected the entire card business industry and a number of cards sellers across Guwahati speak of a very poignant tale.
"The greeting card industry is almost a dead industry today," bemoans Dhiraj Deka, who once had a flourishing card store in Guwahati.
"Once upon a time the month of December people used to rush in large numbers...which today, is...it's gone," he murmurs.
I agree, today we are hyper-busy with our lives and careers that making or buying cards seems like a time-wasting effort.
But a self-made card has a lot more emotions than those forwarded WhatsApp messages and the e-cards.
Maybe we can still start the process from this year.
If not to 10, but we can certainly send one greeting card (either self-made or bought from the shop) to one person for whom we really care about!
We are in the social media world for 364 days. Just for one day, let's be out of it and share it with real people in a real way!
Count the numbers of greeting cards please because it's a Happy New Year!
Partha Prawal (Goswami) is a Guwahati-based journalist who loves to write about entertainment, sports, and social and civic issues among others. He is also a published author.