Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Holiday Cards

My parents, like most grownups, had only a handful of really close friends. But they belonged to a large number of civic, social, political & church organizations. They knew a lot of people around town. They had dozens of relatives most of whom they rarely or never saw. So a few weeks before Christmas they sat down at the dining room table with pages of names & addresses, many boxes of greeting cards, & set about the task of signing, addressing, sealing, & stamping. They didn't have personalized cards. All they had were pens & holiday theme return address labels. First they had to revise the card list, crossing off for deaths, updating addresses, noting when someone had divorced or remarried. Sometimes they had a stack of envelopes from the previous year to add new names. It was a tedious job. But they received bags of holiday cards, which were displayed around the living room in various ways, freestanding & taped to the banister & around doorways. Everyday more cards were stuffed in the little metal mailbox on the porch. Dad received cards from companies & salespeople he dealt with through his job, which required purchasing supplies from sheet metal screws to toilet paper. They also sent him gifts of fruit baskets, cheese & sausage assortments, bottles of scotch, & always one very large cardboard crate of citrus fruit from Florida that we never finished off before it went bad. We always hoped for tangerines or sweet oranges but sometimes it was grapefruit.

Postage was so cheap I don't think they even bothered to hand deliver cards to neighbors on the same block.

Nowadays most people try to get away with mailing as few cards as they can, unless they have business obligations. I've never received many holiday cards, but over the years even my amount has dwindled as the cost of stamps increased. An old friend from high school sent me a card every Christmas with one of those letters about what everyone in his family did over the past year; all his kids now adults & of course they're all mentally stable, superbly educated, happily married, & fabulously successful, with stunningly beautiful children of their own. A few years ago, when he changed from a high-paying corporate media job with an expense account to his own consulting business, I began receiving e cards with the letters as file attachments. He always was a bullshitter - that's how he did so well in the entertainment biz, but he's a good guy & it never bothered me.

This year I was feeling especially isolated & I wanted more cards. But the only way to guarantee I'd get more cards was to guarantee I'd send cards. So I joined a card exchange at a web community I frequent daily, where I've known many people for several years mostly by screenname, a few by real name, long enough to get a good sense of who they are. I could pick any number, figured ten was adequate,& received a list of names & addresses. I bought the Bernardino Luini Madonna del Roseto stamps & a box of inexpensive but tasteful cards with the Three Magi - my favorite Christmas legend because they were hip in a new age kind of way, not the slightest bit elitist. It was one of the few decent designs at Cost Cutters. There's a brief Bible quote from the Book of Matthew, "When they saw the star, the rejoiced with exceeding great joy." The greeting is "Wishing you a Happy Holiday Season." That covers everyone, should offend no one, while indicating my primary holiday. Next year I'll plan ahead & find something classier.

Unexpectedly, I've received more than ten cards from this exchange. They're draped over a curtain rod in the opening to the hallway. A few of the senders didn't add their screennames & I have no idea who they are. I enjoy having this physical proof that all these people know I exist in real as well as cyber space. Many of the cards are really nice.

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If I knew your address, I'd send a card.
Hey, maybe that was Santa that left that last comment. The REAL Santa - you're lucky, Bob.

Personally, I love theose long sappy letters that people send out at Christmas. I only get from one person - wish I had more.

Also, the 3 Kings are my favorite card to send out. Fie on the Archbishop of Canterbury who had to go and call them "a legend".,2933,317550,00.html

I can agree with him that "chances of any snow falling around the stable in Bethlehem were "very unlikely." But no oxen or asses in a stable? That seems to be a key to the archbishop's naysaying nature.

Why can't they just leave it alone? Conflation, indeed.

Bob, at 6 pm last night, I sat down at my dinner table and said "f*** it...I am not sending out Christmas cards this year."
After a few glasses of wine, I relented and spent my lunch hour printing out photo cards of Little Contrarian at CVS. Check your mailbox on Saturday or Monday.
Bob, I'd send you a card also. Since I don't have your address, Merry Christmas. I'd love to know who the high school friend is because I also went to high school and Robert Gorden with you. Lost touch with everyone and I was very quiet in high school
That's astonishing! You're the first person from that time who has ever commented on this blog.
I meant to say that I graduated in the same class as you. Now if you want a puzzle, you'll have to search or to find out who I am. I am registered on both.
Oy. Coy.
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