Holiday Cards

The holiday cards are starting to trickle. We get lots of them and, to tell you the truth, I love them. Whether they say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or Happy New Year or some other greeting, they offer a good window into the lives of friends and family. It is an annual catch-up of sorts.

We get mail in our white mailbox at the end of the driveway six days a week. Every day it is a gift to get something that is not unsolicited, not a bill, not asking for money, not addressed to “resident.” I love getting the mail in general. Could be something fun on any day. I love surprises. When the end of the year nears it means getting fun mail.

Most of the cards we get these days are photo cards–they have some greeting, tailored to the likes or tastes or whims of the sender, along with one to a whole lot of photos. The photos do make it fun. They give me a sense of what matters to the sender, and I love to ponder just why our friends chose those particular photos.

Here is the thing: I think it is a holiday card faux pas to include only photos of one’s children. I mean, why sign it from four people and then have photos of only two people? At least half the cards we get are from friends who do not include pictures of themselves but do include photos of their children. I do want to see pics of your offspring. I really do. But I also want to see pics of you.

My theories why people do not include photos of themselves, only of their children:

1. They mistakenly think that more people in the photo will cost more. Let’s lay that to rest right now–photos cost the same regardless of the subject.

2. They are old enough that they think they look “bad” and so use this as an excuse to omit themselves. To that I say c’mon, you look fine, and once you are a parent do you really care that much what other people think of how you look?

3. They think receivers want to see photos only of their children. Um, no.

4. They never take photos of themselves, only their children. In this age of digital photography, this isn’t really an excuse anymore. Someone has pictures of you.

5. They forget. OK maybe this has some merit. I can’t remember crap these days. But still, you look at the thing before mailing it out don’t you?

6. They are blinded by love for their children to the extent that they cannot think of themselves. They are selfless, caring parents and have devoted their short lives to maximizing their contribution to the next generation who happens to be their own flesh and blood

I’m not sure about that last one. In any case, none of these are really good excuses. I would love to hear a good one. Maybe that will reduce my curmudgeonness.

Any way, keep sending the cards, friends. Just give me some pics of you. I love your kids, but I love you, too.

Holiday Cards Again

We got our holiday cards in the mail early this year–so early, in fact, that many people who received them have commented that ours was the first they received.  Huzzah for our gang.  But we have received few.  I have been curious about this so here are my theories why we are not getting those cheery holiday greetings in the numbers we once did:

Theory 1:  Our cards suck as badly as my wife suggested-without-saying-out-loud they do.  She did not get a chance to approve the final version before I ordered them, so maybe my eye for the appropriateness of our photos or layout is truly poor.  Those who received them, even if they had considered sending us one, were offended by the contrast of the red background against the color of the beach foam in photo #2, and opted to put us on their naughty list.  Hence, no card.

Theory 2:  OK our cards don’t suck so badly; I was just reading into my wife’s initial reaction because of my deepest fears of being accepted by her, still, after all these years.  However, red is a color that makes people angry.  So everyone who received a card from us is angry that we got ours out so early and they did not.  “Why do those people have all that time on their hands that they can deal with holiday cards in frikkin November?” they ask and there we are, off their list.

Theory 3:  People hate us.  After all those years of pretending, they finally have had enough.  Obama got elected.  Gas prices are down.  Ben and Jerry’s is offering a peach flavored ice cream in December, for cripes sake.  With all the good news, why keep up the charade any longer?

Theory 4:  People love us.  They love us so much that they understand the turmoil we face when receiving holiday cards.  Should we hang the cards on the wall?  Should we spread them across the desk?  Should be put them in a festive basket to flip through in idle moments?  And what do we do with them after the holidays?  Should we recycle them?  Can we recycle those photo cards?  And what will people think if they find out we kept someone else’s and not theirs?  “They don’t need that extra stress,” our friends think, “so I just won’t send them a card this year.”

Theory 5:  People are finally catching on to our wasteful society.  We print the cards, send them great distances using gads of fossil fuels, then enjoy them for only a short time.  And it isn’t just holiday cards.  In their new-found awareness of our throwaway culture, our family and friends are cancelling magazine subscriptions, calling to get off catalog mailing lists, and threatening the Geico gecko with snakes and dogs if he sends any more unsolicited mail.  It isn’t personal.  It’s just wasteful.

Theory 6:  It’s the economy.  I know gas prices are down but the stock market is, too.  Since most people depend on the value of equities for their daily income, they suddenly have half what they did last year at this time.  With General Motors on the verge of collapse and Toyota facing its first loss in 70 years, who can afford $1.95 for a holiday card to some schmucks they haven’t seen in how long?  Plus there’s that 42 cent stamp to slap on the envelope.  Come on people. Be a little sensitive here.

Theory 7:  While we were not paying attention, all of our friends and family became the top players at Goldman Sachs.  About 50 people each earned $20 million dollars there in 2006.  We sent about 5o holiday cards.  If all of our cards went to those people, then they are not earning those same salaries any longer.  So, duh, they can’t afford to send us cards this year.  I feel bad for them, but I guess I understand.  Only, why don’t you tell somebody when you start making that much dough?  Or when you stop making that much dough?

Theory 8, the Reality Theory:  People are just busy.  I get it that sending cards is easy to put off.  I get it that the holidays sneak up.  I get it that the kids keep asking for another snack when, for gods’ sake, they just had a snack.  Life keeps going, even with people like us demanding those once-a-year updates.  Why do you think I made sure to get them out so early?  If I had waited, the arguments about why you can’t have another candy cane or just one more of those foiled wrapped balls even though that weird chewy christmas tree shaped gummi thing really was kind of small would be too distracting for me to even think about that crap.

At this point I have yet to test any of these theories.  Once I get around to employing the scientific method and figuring out which one, if any, is the right one, I will report back.  But I am guessing I won’t get to that until after the holidays.