It's time to send out our Christmas cards so I got out the box I stored the ones left over from last year.
What in the hell was I thinking when I bought black Christmas cards last year? They weren’t on clearance, I remember that. No--I paid full price for the most depressing looking cards I’ve ever seen. I think I even sent some of them out and the ones in the Christmas storage box I opened today are what were left over. So, now I would not only be sending BLACK Christmas cards but Left-over Black Christmas cards. Whatever possessed me?
What kind of person sends black Christmas cards? I certainly don’t feel black this year. The only theory to emerge is that last Christmas had a very depressing War/Bush-y feeling. Very dark and somber. The cards even say “Peace on Earth.” So I'm pretty sure it was the war I was thinking of and not the color of the cards. But this year has a totally different feel to it. This Christmas is a whole kaleidoscope of happy colors with a new president who hasn’t worn his welcome out yet and hope is in the air. We might even get stem cell research approved and a couple of new Supreme Court justices. And O J’s in the slammer. Who could ask for anything more?
For once the world is arranged pretty much like I think it should be. It's kind of like my friend Virginia told me after the election--she's been on the losing side for so long she's not sure how to act when her candidate wins. But I think happy looking Christmas cards are a good start.
Except that now, of course, it’s not the war on our minds; it’s the economy. We're all on the verge of starving to death. At our house we’re approaching the dreaded scenario Beaven often warns me about: the Having to Eat Cat Food financial picture. As a matter of fact, I may not even send even the left-over black cards since a hundred friends will cost me 42 bucks in postage. I’m not sure I can afford that many friends.
Times are hard and everyone will have to cut a lot of things. Besides cutting down on friends, the relatives will be hit. For sure, the cousins aren’t getting the Harry and David fruit assortment this year. I packed up some homemade snacks and will mail them myself when I MAYBE buy stamps for only the most important friends I have.
This bare bones “economy in the toilet” lifestyle change is almost a fun challenge for now. This is something I can embrace for the time being. We’ve cut out any spending that we don’t absolutely need. I’m sure it will wear on my nerves soon enough. I told my oldest daughter that it will be a lot easier for the Baby Boomers than Gen X to adapt and she agreed. The Boomers grew up with parents who lived through the Big Depression, whose food was rationed during the war. We were raised by spartan people. I distinctly remember watching my mother unwrap a stick of butter and painstakingly scrape the quarter of a teaspoon of butter left on the wrapper to add it back to the stick.
Not so the generation they call X. (Whatever does that mean, anyway? Is it like a racy movie?) They don’t have the same grasp for doing without or making do. I watched one of my kids throw away a penny she found on the floor while cleaning house and I could swear I heard my mother roll over in her grave.
After my mother-in-law died a few years ago I sorted through the kitchen things and gave my daughters some of her most beloved kitchenware. First, I admonished them to take care of this or that pot. “Your grandmother took very good care of this and it’s over 40 years old.” Emily couldn’t grasp why Blanche never bought new cookware but made do with the old. “I know Ma Ma had a lot of money when she died. Why did she still have this old stuff?” She never figured out that that’s precisely WHY her grandparents had money; because they didn’t waste it on buying new stuff when the old worked just fine.
I have reached the stage in my life where I really don’t need anything. Unless I gain weight and go to bigger clothes I have all I need for the next 40 years or so. Certainly we won’t need to replace Blanche’s cookware. Maybe our car or washing machine will eventually crap out and have to be replaced. But our material needs are really simple now. One of our biggest challenges right now is that we both could stand to lose a few pounds but that’s a blessing in disguise- we don’t need to spend money on food. We could probably live for a couple of weeks just on stored fat.
But you know what? When times get really hard and we have to drop the cable TV and stop buying books and magazines and resort to sitting around the house staring at each other it could get really boring. Maybe a few friends would come in handy to warm our hearts on a cold night. I guess I’d better get the stamps, after all.
If you don’t get a card from me in a couple of weeks and really want one, send me your address. There are a lot of people out there I communicate with by e-mail and I don't have your postal address. I would really love to send you a card. It would help to enclose 42 cents but it’s not really necessary. I’m sure you’re worth it. Anyone who reads this blog is a 42 cent friend.