Christmas cards – joy and goodwill to all?

My wife and I moved to a new town in February. We have loved the move so far and have enjoyed meeting new people and breathing the country air – a big change compared to the streets of São Paulo!

Just before Christmas we thought it might be nice to give a Christmas card to everyone in the neighbourhood. We have met many of our neighbours, but obviously not everyone so it just seemed like a nice way to say hi. Our cards were personal, with a photo of us with our dog Joe so it seemed like a nice way to say hi to people we still haven’t met.

But the experience has been a bit strange. While walking up and down the streets delivering the cards to our neighbours one woman came and stopped and asked if we were begging for cash – in the kind of voice that meant she thought we were not welcome on ‘her’ street. My wife gave her a card and said ‘we live just around the corner from you – happy Christmas!’ I know I wouldn’t have bothered giving her a card, but being nice to someone who is being an idiot is a good strategy for confusing them.

Now it’s a few days after Christmas and only two of our neighbours bothered to reciprocate – not counting the people we actually know already. That’s from about 30 cards delivered.

It doesn’t seem like a very good strike rate, or in the spirit of goodwill and all that. One of the cards that came back was from from our local member of the federal parliament. I’ve never actually met him, but he lives in our street and goes back and forth to Brasilia all the time. Being a politician he could have just handed it to an assistant and got them to sort out a reply, but it was signed from all his family so he should at least receive the benefit of the doubt – whatever his job, he is still a neighbour.

But the funny thing about the cards that did come back is that both of them were also addressed to Joe – our dog… his photo is on the card, but it’s funny to see people write his name on the card too 🙂 I bet that not many Deputado Federals in Brasilia sent out a Christmas card addressed to a mutt who was once tipping bins over for his dinner.

It was an interesting experiment. Perhaps delivering the cards just a couple of days before Christmas itself was too late for many people to respond in time? Next year I’ll try sending them all out on December 1 and maybe arranging a block party so the locals can all get together at our place.


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