KEEP THEM CARDS AND LETTERS COMING IN!
I have no idea who started the tradition of sending out cards and letters during the Christmas season. I suspect it was part of an elaborate conspiracy by the Hallmark Greeting Card Company. While I don’t want to come across as the Grinch Who Stole Christmas Cards, this is one holiday tradition that I really believe should come to an end.
On one miserable night a year, my wife insists that the entire family pose for the photograph for our annual Christmas card. This photograph must be taken weeks—no, make that months—before the holiday season even approaches. This means that on some hot August night, my wife makes the kids and me put on red Christmas sweaters and pose in front of a roaring fireplace while the heat index outside our house is approximately the same as Ted Williams’ lifetime batting average. Keep in mind that during this ridiculous photo shoot, the whole family is supposed to look deliriously happy, as if it were a snowy Christmas morning rather than a humid summer night. The kids are extremely irritated that they have to dress in these ridiculous winter outfits when it is not even Labor Day, and, worse yet, have to act like they truly love their siblings. I’m no help either, because I’m furious that I’ve had to build a fire in my den fireplace and put on a red Christmas vest while the Atlanta Braves are playing on my TV set on the other side of the room.
Since we are all hot and mad, the photographer has to take about five thousand photographs to finally capture one that gives the false impression that we really are a happy family that loves one another.
I suggested to my wife that we just photoshop the deal, superimposing our faces over the faces of Andy Williams, Claudine Longet, and the Osmond Brothers from the 1975 Andy Williams Christmas Special.
A few years ago, we actually got a break from this Christmas in August photo-shoot when my wife announced our Christmas card that year would feature a photograph of our family at the beach during our summer vacation. That was probably the only Christmas card photograph in the history of our family in which we really looked and were genuinely happy.
Several months later, during the holiday season, I noticed that all the Christmas cards we received that year featured pictures of families at the beach during their summer vacations. When I asked my wife about this, she told me that these beach photographs were the “in thing” for Christmas cards that year.
There is apparently some committee of the Junior League that decides these things.
But the next year, the Junior League Christmas Card Committee met and issued a decree that we all had to go back to the Christmas-By-The-Hearth-In-Red-Sweaters-Scenes.
After we get through the ordeal of the Christmas photo-shoot, my wife and I must then spend several evenings during the months of September and October making our Christmas card mailing lists and checking them twice. It’s not that we are trying to find our who’s naughty or nice, it’s just that my wife wants to make sure we do not offend anyone we’ve met over the past 25 years. My wife and I sit down at the dining room table, and she then opens a large manila folder and pours on the table about 1,000 Christmas cards we received last December. We then must painstakingly go through each Christmas card, write down the names and addresses of the senders, and make sure that this year we reciprocate by sending a Christmas card to all these people who were so nice to us last year, even though we don’t know most of them.
I then must spend every evening during the month of November, like Bob Cratchit humped over a lump of coal, addressing Christmas card envelopes so that we can mail them out the day after Thanksgiving.
Meanwhile, my wife prepares the annual family letter that we send out with each Christmas card. This is a work of absolute fiction. Heck, John Grisham can’t make up stuff like my wife does in the annual Christmas letter. In the past year, I could be indicted by the Grand Jury, and one of our children could join a Latin American drug cartel. Nevertheless, my wife would write the annual Christmas card letter reciting the fact that this was really “the best year ever,” and rather than being indicted by the Grand Jury, I was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. My wife also proudly announces that all three Haltom kids have been admitted to Harvard, when, in fact, they were admitted to the Juvenile Court Detention Facility.
Finally, when all the Christmas cards and letters have been stuffed in the envelopes and stamped and addressed, I get a holiday hernia carrying the massive yuletide mail bag to the post office.
I recently suggested to my wife that this year we simply prepare a Christmas “E-card” and e-mail it to all our friends. Unfortunately, my wife told me that the Junior League had already vetoed the idea.