Bah, humbug

Scrooge and Bob Cratchit illustrated by John L...

LAST WORD: Bah, humbug

Lexpert, November 2006

by Marzena Czarnecka

Dear Santa,

I’ve been a pretty good girl this year. Not angelic, I wouldn’t go that far, perhaps a little too acidic and cynical, occasionally outright mean, but I haven’t defrauded the Canadian tax payers to the tune of a penny let alone a few million, I haven’t started any wars I didn’t have the stomach to finish and I’ve done virtually no coveting of other people’s spouses. (Hey, I said virtually… What, are you evaluating us on thought crime now? Come on!)

I know the kids are all asking for world peace these days, but I won’t be so greedy. I’ll settle for a more general acceptance of the consequences of the war; that is, in a war, people die. Soldiers. Civilians. Children. Something to think about before one involves one’s nation in war-mongering (or for that matter peacekeeping) activities.

While I’m no friend to Stephen Harper and would sooner eat a live trout than vote for a party led by him, I ask that the opposition parties remember he was in the powerless opposition when decisions relating to the current Canadian Afghanistan mission were made. Does getting involved in politics necessitate having the rationally thinking part of your brain removed? (Oh… it does? Well, I didn’t know. Mandatory lobotomies during orientation at Parliament Hill. Suddenly, the world makes a lot more sense… Has anyone told Michael Ignatieff?)

In a more selfish vein, what with that euphemistically understated series of “conflicts” in the Middle East continuing to drive up the price of oil and investment in Canadian oilsands… could you send a little more of that oil cash my way? While I’ve done absolutely nothing to bring about the current boom, I can’t help but feel a certain sense of entitlement. I do, after all, live in Alberta, and does that not entitle me to a piece of the oilpatch bounty just by virtue of my mailing address? A certain precedent has been set with last year’s prosperity bonus, don’t you think? (Oh. You’re leaving that up to Ralph? Well, ok. If I know my Kleins—and I know them almost as well as I know my lawyers—he’ll do his utmost to go out on a populist high, no matter how much his party and the media profess to hate him. I’ll be looking for a cheque in the mail come Christmas.)

On a related note, as I understand they are predicting a colder than usual winter for the prairies, I wonder if you could speed up that whole global warming thing. We’re doing our part here, you know—not ratifying the Kyoto Accord on the federal level, driving the most giant gas guzzling vehicles imaginable despite the high prices at the pumps. Perhaps when you do your rounds this year you could attach a leaky led engine to the sled? Every little bit helps.

As Christmas cards start to arrive in mailboxes across the nation, I ask that this be the year that I receive that critical insight into why law firms spend such copious amounts of money on corporate cards to clients who probably don’t even read them? I suspect the lemming theory is a factor—everybody else does it and we couldn’t possibly be the one law firm that doesn’t send a Christmas card to the Royal Bank of Canada. I’ve read the received marketing wisdom that every opportunity to communicate with a client that doesn’t entail asking that client for money (love ya, here’s our bill!) should be embraced. But I’d add to that a caveat: if you put the least amount of effort (non-personalized card or initials that may or may not have been scribbled by your assistant) into that communication at a time when the client is deluged with similar communications… how effective is that? I’d pick up the telephone and wish the client joy of the season personally instead (remember not to bill for the telephone conversation).

I should add: myself, I love getting law firm Christmas cards—I find the choice of picture tells me more about the culture of the law firm (traditionalist, safe, politically correct, boring) than its website. And I’m waiting, wistfully and hopefully, for the year in which I receive several completely identical Christmas cards from the Bay Street Borg Hive Mind; last year, two firms came very, very close.

And that’s about all. Well, if you want non-curdled milk waiting for you, you might want to get me a new refrigerator. Although my current one probably does play a critical role in global warming…

Cynically, but not greedily, yours, M.

Marzena Czarnecka is a Calgary-based Christmas hating Scrooge who doesn’t send out Christmas cards, but likes to receive them. 

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