When I was 8 years old, my parents packed up their belongings and their two children and we travelled what seemed for days, from Scotland to South Africa. Tears were shed and gifts were shared and and you knew that the only form of communication that you would have with your family, would be airmail letters which, would arrive 14 – 21 days after they were written.
20 years ago, the process hadn’t improved much at all. I kissed my parents and friends goodbye, I received many lovely gifts and I travelled from South Africa to Holland, knowing that cards and letters would arrive perhaps a little quicker…..but only just a little and I’d have to pay astronomical costs for long distance telephone calls.
Receiving a farewell gift is always an amazing treat; friends who you’ve known for a lifetime coming from afar to celebrate, a delicious box of Belgian chocolates, a bottle of French champagne, a book, sweet perfume or that beautiful personal gift, specifically chosen with you in mind or which has been in the family for many many years and has now been given to you. The pain of saying farewell is softened by the receipt of something to remember someone by.
But these days, farewells aren’t really farewells at all. Yes, you may miss seeing someone face-to-face however, Linked-in, Facebook and Twitter have become our very large virtual kitchen table, where we continue to ‘meet’ friends for coffee and a chat. Skype means that we can look people in the eye when we talk to them and excessive long distance telephone costs are something of the past.
I hope I don’t sound ungrateful, when I say that farewell gifts should no longer be necessary. Having said that however, I’m glad that farewell gifts still exist, as the best farewell gifts of all are those you ask your friends to give, knowing that a charity will be the benefactor. I was given a full page advertisement, in the business magazine Management Scope, for the charity of my choice. I hope that Orange Babies will be happy with this gift. And, my Brand, Communications and CSR team members at Deloitte contacted Hope Village in Namibia to find out what support they require and surprised me with the result; they are collecting for a school bus.
The pain of saying farewell has been softened by knowing that Deloitte, my colleagues and my friends have donated to very worthy causes. Now that’s what I call a happy farewell. Thank you so very very much everyone. Hong Kong, here I come!