There is definitely something different about Christmas this year. It’s been over a week since Thanksgiving and we have only received one Christmas card. I refuse to think that all those people are mad at us or don’t love us anymore. Even people who don’t like me are unable to resist Beaven—he’s such a teddy bear. It’s got to be something else.
Over the years we have had a couple of friends whose card arrives the day after Thanksgiving—leading me to understand that they probably addressed all those cards over the Labor Day holiday while sitting by the pool with a tall glass of lemonade. I’m not sure those cards count but they do set the bar terribly high and intimidate the rest of us. These people are hard-core card people. So, when I didn’t get a card from them the first week of the season it grabbed my attention.
I am of the age now when this omission causes me to worry about whether my friend has gone to the big post office in the sky. But surely I would have received word-- these people are so organized they would have already written their own obituary and left instructions for what to do about their Christmas card list.
So, maybe they’re just sick. Deathly ill. In-a-coma sick.
Last year I didn't get a card from a cousin I regularly visit with at weddings and funerals. We’re close that way. So I wasn’t shy about asking her what happened. Indeed, I ran to the phone and called her this summer, a mere six months after my Christmas card radar pinged. After asking about her health we had a nice conversation about things that had nothing to do with weddings or funerals. She was comforted to know that, had there been an actually health emergency, I would have rushed to her aid within six months of finding out. And, of course, I got a Christmas card from her two days later.
I always enjoy Barbara Kay's Christmas cards. They're are in that category that seems to be growing lately: the ones that have a photo of their beautiful family. I figure they take these fantastic photos on Thanksgiving since it’s about the only holiday when you can get the entire clan together for a snap. I noticed on facebook people were posting right and left with photos taken over the holiday weekend.
I tried this last week with absolutely no success. Having their photo taken was the last thing my people wanted to do. Any visit to our house is like going camping but with a better bed. We usually get a fire going outside and sit by it enough to get our clothes infused with smoke. Nobody brings nice clothes when they come to visit us. And in order to get six people, four with long, thick hair, showered and styled is a scheduling ordeal that rivals D Day. Then you have to factor in the attitude that they are here at my house to relax, not just to pose for family photos. I was fighting a losing battle. So you will have no photo in your Christmas card this year.
In fact, if you are reading this blog you most likely will not be getting a card from me this Christmas at all. Because, and this is the big, culture-rearranging fact we have to face here: facebook may have replaced Christmas cards.
There is nothing new I have to say to you if we have been following each other’s lives on facebook for the last 12 months. I’ve seen your prayer requests within minutes of an accident or health crises. I’ve virtually attended a lot of weddings from the comfort of my easy chair. I’ve seen your lives through the vast multi-media cornucopia that our technology provides. Facebook has several mediums to communicate that postal mail cannot compete with. I can post words, music and even videos. You have seen videos of my grandkids playing in the marching band at football games. You have seen the energy-infused gallop to the 50-yard line with the school flag after every score in a football game-- waving the flags that spell the high school’s name with the kid in the eagle costume flapping her wings wildly. No greeting card can compete with that.
I suspect people are waiting to see if cards are still a part of the American landscape. We’re all peeking around the corner to see who sends a card first--tightly clutching a roll of stamps, ready to return a card in the next mail like it was in the plan all along.
We don’t really need Christmas cards anymore. Our culture today is more “in touch” with each other than ever before in the history of the world. The only thing that could make contact any more vivid might be smell-o-rama and I’m not sure we want to jump into that pond.
There’s also the factor that Christmas cards cost money. You gotta buy the card and postage. At a minimum we’re looking at well over a dollar per card, probably $2 or more. If I send 50 cards that’s a hundred bucks right there. It’s certainly pruned my list a bit to consider the question, “Do I love this person enough to spend this much money on them?” It really flushes out the superficial friendships.
And there is age. There’s no escaping it. If I have to grow old, you do, too. When I go through my mailing labels every year there are more and more labels I need to change from “Mr and Mrs” to just “Mrs” or even eliminate totally.
I have stayed in touch with my best friend from junior high school. She moved to California the year we both went into high school. For some reason we have stayed in Christmas card contact for over 50 years now. I think it’s a contest to see who will die first.
Let me leave you my all-time favorite Christmas card that I have ever sent. I’ve never been able to top it. It’s honest, witty and even had a family photo in it. It's the best Christmas card I've ever sent.