February 24, 2020

The Issue of Sending Holiday Cards

The issue of sending holiday cards has always presented a dilemma. Each year you have to decide whether or not to send a card to so-and-so because the cards have become more expensive, postage rates have gone up, and the list of potential recipients has grown exponentially.

No matter how many cards (or letters) you send, you always forget somebody or you receive a card from someone you took off your list. It never fails, as you are walking back from the mailbox looking at return addresses, that you realize, “I never sent them a card.” And have you noticed the cards that straggle in three or four days after the holiday? You just know the sender forgot you until they got your card (or letter).

That’s why cards arrive in waves. The first wave contains the cards from the people who thought of you first, the second wave is the ones who sent you a card after they got the one you sent them. These second-wavers are potential culls from next year’s list, but the only real solution is to send a card really early to everyone you know.

Another problem is the whole issue of political correctness. It used to be if you sent a card wishing someone a Merry Christmas, and it wasn’t appropriate for some reason or another, they might downgrade their opinion of you to “jerk” and scratch you off their list for next year, but that’s about all. Now-a-days you might find the ACLU camped on your doorstep. That’s why the sale of “Happy Holidays” cards has mushroomed. We don’t want to take a chance on insulting somebody with good intentions.

And then we have the holiday newsletter. Opinions on this issue are widely divided. Some people feel that to simply sign and send a card once a year and have no other contact whatsoever is ridiculous. They feel it only proves that the sender has enough mind left to recognize your name and strength enough to transfer the name from a list to an envelope. With self-sticking stamps, even saliva is no longer required. These people say, “Write me a letter. Brag about the kids. Take a minute to show me I’m worth more of your time.” Of course, the people who say that write their newsletter on computers and crank out hundreds of copies, along with mailing labels or even printed envelopes. They also have three or four kids to fold, stuff, lick and stamp.

Other people feel the exact opposite. The holiday newsletters are nothing more than a rehash of the year. As a friend (Ms. Peggy Kuula) says, “A journal of who got hatched, matched, latched, unlatched, scratched or dispatched.” But it does help you adjust your card list for next year.

Originally the newsletters were poorly typed, terrible copies, but with the advent of computers and color printers the quality has improved many-fold. Now, they have borders, pictures and flowery fonts. Each has the quality of an original, but the content hasn’t changed in thirty years. And with electronic mail, they can go on for pages without requiring extra postage. The really well organized folks keep a running journal all year, and on Dec. 1, click “Attach,” “Send,” and the lights dim everywhere in the northern hemisphere.

A consistent theme in these newsletters is nothing bad ever happens without a silver lining, like “Junior developed a $300 a day cocaine habit, and spent six months in group rehab, but it has cured his stutter, so it was worth it.” Some senders try to avoid the wrath of recipients by having their dog or cat write the newsletter. After all, who can find fault with Fluffy or Pepper? There is no middle ground on this issue, you either love ’em or hate ’em. A factor in where you stand is whether or not you give a hoot about the sender. I find that I enjoy a newsletter more if I actually like the person who sent it. There is also the possibility that there is something in the newsletter of interest to me. Bottom line, I suggest we find all the people who like receiving newsletters, match them up with the people who like sending them, and leave the rest of the folks out of it. Everybody will be happier.

Send me a card next year if you agree.

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