There’s a Peanuts cartoon that shows Charlie Brown writing a letter that reads:
“Dear Santa Claus, Well, it’s that time of year again, isn’t it? There are so many things I would like to say to you, but I find it hard to put them in writing. It would be so much easier if I could talk to you in person. Do you think maybe we could have lunch together sometime?”
Seems to me there are some things better said face to face, in a conversation. Letters are a bit one-sided, as are emails. Texts can be sort of like a conversation, but threads can get tangled, inflections are missing and smiley faces don’t really convey intent that well. Texting is a kind of shorthand we lean on that enhances the efficiency of communication without really advancing the quality of it.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a total fan of texting. It’s saved me hours on the phone, gotten me unlost, given me a forum for all sorts of things I want to say to people. I think some relationships are better because of texting.
But, I know there’s nothing like a real conversation. The rambling, wandering discussions that leap from topic to topic in a convoluted but totally natural flow of give and take. That’s why I look forward to a daughter’s visit over the holidays, and why my sister coming into town will be fun. We’ll be able to talk and ask questions and see the response in a facial expression or in a gesture, before the brain sends words to the mouth. So much gets said by what we see.
I feel almost giddy with excitement at the prospect of all the pending conversations with family and friends.
Having a meal together isn’t about the food, not entirely. It’s about the talking that happens over and around the food. It gives us a reason to be face to face, to read the eyes, the mouth twitch, the sighs. There’s a solid human interaction that I absolutely cherish.
Phone conversations are good too, but still, there’s that up close and personal thing that happens when you’re in the room together. A hand reaches out, a hug can happen, a fist bump connects, a strong handshake can pull someone in close.
And then there’s whispering. There’s simply no other communication like a whisper. Think about it. Private, quiet, stealthy, intimate, personal, direct, breathy, warm, ticklish.
I wish I had time to do lunch with every single relative, every individual friend, every happy acquaintance, every person that has meaning in my life. I’d love for all that one on one time to happen. It’d be some ride ,wouldn’t it?
Alas, I am but one person, with a limited budget, and limited time. And so I write, saying the things I think, talking about the things I’d share in a conversation. Hopefully I’m connecting a little with someone. It’s a good feeling.
In another letter to Santa, the words of Peppermint Patty say it well:
“Dear Santa, Just a last note before you take off. I hope you have a nice trip. Don’t forget to fasten your seat belt.”
I hope you get to have some great conversations over the next few days. I hope you go for a walk and chat a bit. Or sit on the couch, or the porch swing, or around a puzzle at the table and share some words between each other. I hope you eat something delicious and talk of real things together. I hope you make some great connections. I plan to do just that. It’s the best part of the holidays I can think of.