Parenting

I Haven’t Sent Christmas Cards In A While — And You’re Not Getting One This Year Either

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I am not a zealot. I do not devote the entire year to dreaming of sugar plums and scouring hobby stores to stock up on leftover garland and sorry-looking boughs of holly. I don’t care when “It’s a Wonderful Life” will be on one of the major networks again, and I’m certainly going to avoid any Nutcracker-ness for as long as I can. I don’t post jolly Santa memes that count down the days until Jesus’s next birthday. From December 26 until the next year’s December, I spend pretty much no time thinking about Christmas itself. Nevertheless, I spend a full 12 months stressing and obsessing about Christmas cards.

I have never, in my whole life, successfully addressed, stamped, and sent a complete batch of Christmas cards. I sometimes get no further than taking a picture of the boys. Sometimes, I get as far as having 100 cards or so printed up with their names, ages, and some appropriate holiday greeting. Other times, I do all the footwork and even stuff and address the envelopes.

At some point in the process, though, my efforts are always thwarted. I’ve lost my address book, I’ve left my SIM card in the kiosk slot and never actually ordered the cards; I’ve misplaced the cards; I’ve spilled salsa on the cards. I’ve pre-stamped the wrong 100 envelopes and had to cut off the postage and affix it onto the right 100 envelopes. By that time, seven Christmases have passed–and I still haven’t sent a single Christmas card.

I have tried the ol’ just-send-New-Year’s-cards-instead self-ruse. That way, I rationalize, I can focus on all the stuff that has to get done before Christmas day — like quadruple-checking the gift checklist so I don’t leave Aunt Geraldine off it again. Or chopping down an unsuspecting evergreen and suffocating it with fairy lights and some other seen-better-days Christmas detritus.

Once January is in the rearview mirror, I routinely have an epiphany. Why not send out “Casimir Pulaski Day” cards? That, I decide, would be two-pronged brilliant: 1.) This Illinois holiday is relatively obscure–so how surprising (and hilarious!) would it be to receive a Joy-to-the-Casimir greeting?!!; 2.) It also invariably falls on the first Monday in March, so that would give me two months to complete my persistent, exhausting “Christmas” cards.

Then, a month or so later, after March has come and gone, I have my next epiphany: ‘Well, no one appreciates Mr. Pulaski anyway, so I’ll print up some National Lemonade Day (yes, that’s a real thing) cards in late April, and won’t that be a hoot?!” Later, I commit to National Dog Day or Scarf Day or whatever obscure fete is on the horizon. Pretty soon—you guessed it—I’ve made it to December again. And then I really have to focus and get those f*cking Christmas cards done.

There is a whole battalion of huffy, disenchanted people out there who have purged tradition-breakers like me from their contacts. Maybe they think I need to get off my ass and put in the work; maybe they imagine they got X’d off my list for some mystery offense, and they’re gonna return the favor. I do kinda get it. Maybe I should be doing a little eye-for-an-eye auditing too.

I keep a Post-it and try to keep track of the four people left who still send me cards. And, I do try, ridiculously hard, to reciprocate. Sadly, I know that the sticky note will end up walking away on the bottom of someone’s shoe. Frankly, for me, sending even four Christmas cards is as insurmountable as sending a zillion.

Still, there are the loyalists—the ones who don’t neurotically scan their spreadsheets for Christmas card activity. Maybe the reason that they still include me in their mass mailing is just a detached courtesy (I’ll take it!), or maybe they have hobbies that don’t include exacting vengeance on a horribly hopeless scatterbrain.

Those blessed souls are on my Christmas card list this year. But, once Groundhog Day passes, they shouldn’t hold their breath.

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