Grain Full: Grain Ripens

December 6th, 2011
by Jo Law

This pentad ended on the same day as The Reserve Bank of Australia’s last meeting of the calendar year. In reponse to a slowing economy, the board decided to cut interest rates by 25 basis points bringing down the official rate to 4.25%. All hailed the RBA for the ‘Christmas rate cut’. Farmers and growers also hail the predicted record harvest of winter crops estimated to exceed 43.4 million tonnes, a 2% increase from the previous year. Meanwhile, Australia Post is preparing for the surge of Christmas online shopping that bumps up parcel deliveries by 100,000 every day in December.

While e-commerce provides a steady revenue increase from parcel delivery for the postal service, which saw a 5.3% rise in the 2010-1 financial year, numbers of letters being delivered decreased from a peak of 5.6 billion in 2008 to just under 5.1 billion this year. It is unsurprising that the tradition of mailing Christmas cards also follows this falling trend.

It is said that Queen Victoria’s enthusiasm for her husband and the customs of his native Germany popularised the features most of us associate with this festive season, including the sending of greeting cards. In my primary school days, Christmas cards were simply exchanged between classmates, no postage needed. It did seem strange to me at the time to receive season’s greetings in paper form from people I saw practically every day (and some of whom I didn’t even know). Logically, this meaninful practice should become more commonplace as populations are more mobile and families more dispersed, but for the rise of telephonic and electronic communication. E-cards: animated, personalised, with soundtracks, and free, sent with a click of a button, no postage needed. It’s hard to compete.

But for those of us who have the time and the inclination, delight can still be found in the physical act of sending out these seasonal greetings using the postal service. Although my plan to induct Hollis into the activity of making Christmas cards was not altogether successful, I still derive a lot of pleasure from the process of creating these annual personal greetings. Now I just have to make sure that they get to the post office in plenty of time. Don’t forget: for the month of December, endorsed ‘card only’ mail can be sent for 5¢ less than standard mail!

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