I’m about to utter two words that will either make you smile, or make you recoil with revulsion. Ready? Christmas cards. That’s all.
My teenagers would be rolling their eyes if they were here right now, but those of you who are old enough to remember, well, anything, know the guilt and fear these words can evoke.
In the past, during the Mandatory Christmas Card Epoch, we always worried about who should receive our cards and whether we’d get them mailed in time. The darn things would just sit there on the table, mocking us, and telling us we were sluggards for not taking the day off work to get them in the mail.
I remember once when I worked in Hollywood, I was hired to use my fanciest handwriting to address hundreds of Christmas card envelopes for a famous producer. I made sure to copy down the home address of some famous people I admired, just so I could say I had them. And, then, later I wished I had someone to do this for me.
Did we have our college roommate’s correct address? Did she move this year? Should we send individual notes to such people or was that just too much work? Maybe we should just go to the store and order photo cards, with preprinted messages on them. But, did we have a photo to use?
Also, for some, asking whether we’d done enough lying and bragging in the accompanying cheery red paper newsletters to last for an entire year. (Example: Our Matt’s gone to Massachusetts for a spell, which, as you know is the home of Harvard University and MIT. Translation: Matt is a longterm guest of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections, due to his habit of breaking into offices and stealing computers at midnight.)
Then, there was always the panic that ensued when you got a last-minute card from someone who hadn’t been on your own list, necessitating an Emergency Card Intervention, and hoping the overlooked person wouldn’t notice that it had been mailed on Dec. 23rd.
Nowadays, the whole tradition of sending Christmas cards has been ebbing steadily away, as young people tweet and Snapchat each other instead. My teens find the whole concept to be quaint and pointless, rather like the boxed set of Proust on my bookshelf that I’ve owned for 35 years. I could never get past the first page. In fact, my kids barely know how to address an envelope. They always have to ask me to help them, and then they are mystified by the concept of stamps.
Special Christmas stamps would probably just send them over the edge of madness.