Long ago, my husband and I shifted to Tewkesbury, the UK, because of his job. The first few weeks went by in arranging household things, and exploring the food and places nearby. Not long after, I began to feel forlorn in that obscure spot.
Christmas had marked its beginning with the Christmas market. The streets became noisy with people, stalls and vendors. I was excited to find out about the celebrations over there. One day, as I was going to the nearby library, I saw a group of old women gathered in front of a stall. They probably had a lot to discuss but looked really cool.
When I was returning after almost an hour, I saw them moving cartons from a car into the stall. I was curious about the products they were selling. What could they be? If the senior citizens are out there selling, it should definitely be something that brings in money, I thought.
The very next day, both my husband and I went there to unbox the suspense we had been carrying.
Christmas cards! Yes, they were selling Christmas cards. I was surprised. In this age when everyone relies on social media for communication, what could be the relevance of a Christmas card? Will anyone even take a look at it? We met Mary, an old lady who was a volunteer as well as the organiser of this card sale.
Soon, we learned that they were running the stall for charity. Every day, bundles of cards would arrive on which names of certain organisations or hospitals were marked. The money they got from selling those cards would be handed over to the respective organisations. They weren’t earning a single penny out of selling at the market.
We couldn’t stop ourselves from giving our names as volunteers. It was fun working with them — arranging cards, collecting money, talking to people, we were the only youngsters over there. Mary told me about the English breakfast, places to visit nearby and about her family. She even taught me to hand-weave woollen clothes. I, too, shared about my Indian traditions, culture, food etc. Mary returned home only after settling the accounts.
Not only Mary, but there were also a lot of elder volunteers over there with their bodies fighting with their mind, health fighting with humanity. Where a lot of people end up saying that they are old and that can they do now, here were some old women with a strong will. They were shouting silently that even they can bring a change. Once, I told Mary that I never thought they could earn money out of cards. She smiled at me and said that Christmas cards are a token of love and care. No technology can bring the joy that a card can.