- Holidays and Celebrations
Apathy Is Mightier than the Pen
Why I’m Not Mailing Christmas Cards This Year. Again.
Last year was the first time in about 25 years that I didn’t send out Christmas cards. Not even one. We had just moved across a couple of states about two months previous, and before I knew it, it was December 18th and I hadn’t even purchased cards, much less started them. I was still trying to find a box of my freakin’ sweaters after rearranging the crammed closets for the sixth time. I felt deeply ashamed at dropping that particular red and green ball; however, one year later, I’m thinking I may never pick it up again. And last year’s shame of my failure to participate in decorative holiday correspondence has been replaced by a shrug and a “meh.”
Getting holiday cards is nice. You get pretty, tangible, and tactile pieces of paper in the mail from beloved friends and relatives, as well as some crap from your car dealership, insurance company, and the dentist. You open the cards, usually getting glitter all over your hands and kitchen table in the process, and display them on the mantle and side tables until New Year’s. Little colorful fold-out reminders that some people still remember you and consider you worth a scrawled “Hihowareyou,” signature, and a stamp. Then those little acknowledgements of both the holiday and your existence get chucked into the trash along with the wrapping paper and broken ornaments. I used to keep all my cards – Christmas, birthdays, Valentines…. the works. I kept this up for about 10 years until I realized I needed a refrigerator box to keep them in. Before one of my last moves, I took one last glance at them, set aside maybe ten of either the funniest or those from the deceased, and bade the rest goodbye. I have neither the space nor the sentiment these days to pick up a hoarding habit.
I used to enjoy writing out Christmas cards every year. I’d hit a few different stores picking out the funniest or prettiest cards I could find within budget, and then lay out all my supplies in neat little colorful stacks on the table and address about 40 or cards, taking the time to handwrite personal mini-letters in each one. That was before carpal tunnel, a soul sucking job, reproduction, and the simple fact I’m lucky to come home to six square inches of free space on my table. And find a pen that works? HA – that’s a good one. Seriously.
I supposed I could hammer out one of those odious brag sheets, aka family holiday updates letter with a festive border and awkwardly staged whimsical snapshots of everyone peppered throughout some text telling 40 of my nearest and dearest just how darn wonderful a year 2011 has been. Hey, I understand the logic involved in writing one of these letters. It’s an efficient yet semi-thoughtful means of telling everyone you know the same story one time using the convenience of your font selection and printer. But have you ever read one that didn’t make you want to light it on fire? Well, GEE! The Smith family here has sure had a wonderful year just filled with blessings! We outbid this nice family from St. Paul on this just gorgeous 7,200 square foot home with a fabulous view from the Jacuzzi! Jim got a promotion and $47K raise right after we got back from a six-week vacation in Fiji. I became head of the sewing circle AND the lunch club, everyone is the picture of health, and our prize winning hybrid roses are still blooming in December! They look just beautiful next to the rainbows the dog poops out in the front yard!
I guess I could write one of these letters, but I sincerely doubt anyone would want to read it. Well, gosh, everyone – I’ll just keep this short and simple, because every day this year has been exactly the same! I get up at 5:30 dizzy from chronic sleep deprivation and run into the dresser. Gosh darn dresser! Then I wrestle my increasingly larva-like body into a skirt and heels and use my cosmetic skills to make my face look only 5 years younger than I really am and like I’ve been to bed this month. Then I go to a cubicle farm and die a little. I feel so honored – they added another job duty to my already bustling and challenging job! I feel so fortunate to have so many skills and so much variety in my career, by golly! Then I go home to a crammed apartment that looks like a frat house meets Toys ‘R Us and try to repair the damage while making dinner and fielding my toddler’s alternating volcanic temper tantrums and demands for hugs and a second job freelancing! More fast-paced variety! Then I eventually collapse into bed still wearing those pretty, smeared cosmetics and have exciting dreams for a couple of hours involving being chased by homeless people with garrotes through dark alleys. Then I get up and do it again!
Argh. I guess my heart really is three sizes too small, but it all just seems so pointless and an ultimate waste of paper and postage and time. Last year I just called my nearest and dearest and caught up with them on the phone after apologizing for not sending a card. And you know what? I found the 15-minute phone calls a lot more psychologically rewarding and Christmas spirit-like than several hours spent shuffling through addresses and getting hand cramps from writing out cards that someone’s just going to puzzle over the crabbed handwriting and pitch in the trash in two weeks.
So this year , once again, my Christmas correspondence will be limited to making sure my phone is charged. And I’ll be taking the time saved to bake extra cookies and give my kid hugs before she even asks. And opening a bottle of wine. I’m liking this tradition I just made up. Cheers!