Sending Christmas Cards Is A Major Production


Well, I’m almost ready to send out my Christmas cards. I have been working on this little project for two weeks, and, by next week, they ought to be in the mail.

“You have got to be kidding!” you say. “Just how disorganized are you?” you ask. I am not kidding. And I am very organized. That is what takes me so long.

First I have to write the family letter. It used to be a brag letter, but over the years it has disintegrated into excuse-making. “I got a new car!” is now, “Still saving money by driving the old clunker!”

I go through my notes and photos of 2013 until I think I have enough to fill a sheet of paper, then I put them in calendar order. “January: My New Year’s resolution is to learn to make chili. February: Next month I am going to try that chili. December: I heard that 2014 is going to be the year for chili!”

Once that’s done, I send the whole mess to Print-It Plus, and within days — like some kind of Christmas miracle! — they have transformed that mess into a high-quality newsletter with everything spelled correctly and photos so bright they pop. Since the Christmas letter is the only correspondence my loved ones get from me all year, I need it to look like I’ve got it all together. They don’t need to know the truth.

Next, I update my contact list. Every year there are fewer people on it. But don’t cry for me, Argentina. It’s not because anyone is dying. It’s because every year I have fewer friends. People just don’t stick with me year after year. It might be because I never call them, visit them, go out with them or write them but, hey, they got my newsletter! Isn’t that enough? Some people are just never satisfied.

Buying cards is the next step. The cards have to have envelopes big enough to hold the newsletter yet small enough to be mailed with one stamp. They should be pretty or cute or awe-inspiring on the outside and not too hokey on the inside. I get three kinds — one for people with kids (featuring Santa Claus, reindeer, toys or puppies), one for people I am trying to impress (featuring heavy paper, lined envelopes, silver foil and origami) and one for non-Christians (who still get their cards about Dec. 25 no matter what religion they are because I may be organized, but I am not that organized).

It takes me hours to assign the right cards to the right people because, believe it or not, some non-Christians have children. Some children have parents whom I’m trying to impress. And you simply can’t send a puppy card to a kid who has kittens. A fourth card can sometimes solve these problems. It is typically a rather ugly card with a poinsettia on the outside and the vague sentiment “Happy Holidays” on the inside. “Holidays?” Plural? What do they mean by this? Thanksgiving and Christmas? Kwanzaa and Valentine’s Day? Groundhog Day and the Fourth of July?

But eventually I get them matched up. I stuff in the newsletters, scrounge up some stamps, and seal them with gold stickers. I bundle them with rubber bands, drive to the post office and hand them over. Done! The sense of relief is palpable.

Too bad I forgot to sign them!