holiday Card

The process of sending holiday cards has begun in earnest.  For the uninitiated, a how-to guide:

Create card.  Find acceptable picture(s) of family.  Browse online for photos in which everyone looks reasonably happy and well-adjusted.  Find nothing.  Quickly gather family together for impromptu portrait session.  Tell son to stop making that goofy smile. Apologize when he cries because that is his regular smile.  Ask kids to stand closer together.  Watch as the other brother cries because he does not like standing close to his younger brother.  Explain in a calm voice that WE ARE NOT GOING TO BE DONE UNTIL MOMMY GETS AN ACCEPTABLE PICTURE!!!  Watch as husband start to cry.  Snap several photos.  Select photo where everyone looks good except you, who strangely appears rather clenched.  Determine pre-printed message.  Have internal debate about whether or not to include the dog in the signature. Spend 17 hours uploading pictures to online photo card provider of choice.

Determine list of recipients.  Wonder who is card-worthy this year?  Decide once again it is time to cull the list.  Commit to removing all those people who you have not seen or spoken to in the last 2,  3,  4 years.  Hesitate.  Decide to remove only those people you will never see again.  Determine that is nobody. Wonder how you break up with someone on your holiday card list?  Wonder if you are now obligated to send cards to Facebook friends who comment on your status updates?  Worry that the 75 cards you ordered won’t be enough.

Write personal notes inside cards.  Generate standard, interchangable phrases such as “A happy and healthy one!”  “We MUST get together!” “Here’s to a wonderful 2010!”  Be careful not to use exact same phrases for connected family members in case they are visiting one another and see the card you sent their sister has the exact same sincere phrases as they got.  Make generous use of exclamation points and X’s and O’s.  Write out cards so quickly that you accidentally send XXOO to your boss.  Re-do that card.  Worry that 75 cards is not enough.  Ponder over spellings of first names, secretly horrified you don’t remember whether your husband’s cousin’s second wife’s  name ends in “y”, “ie”, or just plain “i”.  Search for past correspondence.  Find nothing.  Guess and pray. 

Address and send.  Argue over which takes longer: handwriting addresses (a.k.a the wife approach) or getting the labels to line up in the printer (a.k.a. the husband approach). As husband fiddles with the labels, address all envelopes by hand for spite.  Do the addresses you know from memory first (these are your true peeps); next, those who you know everything but the zip code; finally, go to address book and white for the rest.  Ask yourself why you didn’t copy down more addresses last year so you wouldn’t have to look up so many again this year.  Kid yourself into thinking that you can lick all the envelopes because a sponge is so messy.  Despite efforts to over-salivate, get a huge paper cut on tongue.  Enlist youngest son to do stamps and insist he adhere them right side up.  When he asks why, tell him “just because” and then fire him.  Use ink stamp for return addresses on envelope, screwing up every fifth stamp.  Try to re-do the screw-ups by perfectly aligning the stamper with what is already on the paper.  Make it worse.  Throw out envelopes.  Worry that 75 is not enough.  Proudly drop pile of cards in mailbox at post office, but not before checking each for a stamp for the third time as this process has given you a seasonal case of OCD.

Give and you shall receive.  As you receive cards from families to which you did not send cards, prepare a card but DO NOT send right away, as it will be too obvious that you reacted to their card.  Wait one or two days and then send, perpetuating the illusion that it was coming all along – just a little later.  Do this up until December 28, after which time it is just too late.  Post the cards you receive from others in a prominent place so people can see how many friends you have enjoy them.  Find the one card where you ask yourself, “Did they REALLY think this was a GOOD picture?”  Wonder if other families have ever picked YOUR card for this honor.  Realize your frugality has paid off — that you have 20 cards left over that you will never use.  Vow that next year you will only order 50 cards.  Then completely forget.  Leave card display up until June.

A happy and healthy weekend to all MoB readers!  And get started on those cards!

PS.  If you have time to waste today, read my latest piece at Babble, inspired by a blog post I did here last year about being a Jewish family at Christmas time and resisting the urge not to convert.
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