Sunday, December 7, 2008
Procrastination is something best left until tomorrow
But eventually, in spite of my best efforts to delay, Christmas cards have to be sent.
And so with suitable prodding by the spousal unit (“Here are the cards and a pen; what are you waiting for?”), and the accompaniment of a very large tumbler of scotch, the process begins.
First you have to write the dreaded Christmas letter. That’s the letter in which you summarize a year’s worth of family news of absolutely no interest to anyone but yourself, and perhaps your mother, onto one double-sided page to be foisted off on the unsuspecting Christmas card recipient. The Christmas letter used to be the exclusive domain of immediate family back in the days when a stamp was cheaper than long-distance and Christmas was the only time folks found out what their grandkids had been up to for the past 12 months. But times change and the replacement of the trusty Underwood by word processing software means that it is now but an extra click or two to print 100 copies to send to EVERYONE. It also means the font can be reduced as necessary to ensure that the entire message still fits on the single page which will keep the envelope within size and weight limits for first-class postage. Just be aware that a 4-point font is totally illegible to anyone whose eyes have been on this earth for more than 4 decades.
Once your letter of exciting news, brilliant witticisms, and the requisite out-of-focus family snapshot taken during the summer vacation at the lake is ready to go you have to select the correct card to stick it in. As when crossing a minefield, one must tread very carefully in this regard. There are 3 distinct types of Christmas card out there – religious, secular and humorous, to be sent to religious, secular and odd friends. And you should never – NEVER – mix them up. A Christmas card with Vixen in a thong doing a pole dance while being cheered on by Rudolph and a bunch of drunken elves should never be sent to the Pastor, for example. It’s not that your Pastor is this dour person with no sense of humour; it’s just that humorous religious cards are simply not to be had. Which is a bit odd, really, as one would think 3 dudes showing up on camels, carrying something called Myrrh and calling themselves Maggie would have all sorts of comedic possibilities. But alas religion and humour remain mutually exclusive, so it’s angels and ginormous stars and baby Jesuses in mangers with biblical quotes for the religious sect. Everyone else gets a laugh, a cartoon of Santa in a compromising position, and a Happy Holidays greeting.
So you’re done, right? Just throw them in the mail and you can go back to watching Charlie Brown’s Christmas or Vixen doing her pole dance ... wow it's amazing what you can find on cable these days ... er, sorry, lost focus there for a moment. Yeah. Mail. Well not quite, because now the game of Christmas chicken begins. Everyone has people on their Christmas card list who they don’t really want to send a card to, and who they suspect feel the same way towards them. But you don’t want to be the first to break with tradition so you delay sending them a card until (if) one from them arrives in your mailbox. When it does, you quickly toss a reply card in the outgoing mail as if you intended to all along. And because Canada Post can take anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks to deliver, they will never know with certainty that the cards didn’t simply cross in the mail, thus extending for at least one more year the period during which folks you don’t really care about that much still feel an obligation to send you a Christmas card or else suffer the humiliation of being first to break the chain.
By the way, this is similar to the technique to be used when a card arrives from your Aunt Mabel who you hadn’t heard from for 12 years and assumed was dead but was really just chillin’ with some trucker in a trailer park in Tennessee and has now decided it’s time to renew family acquaintances in the hope that someone has a spare room. On second thought, in that case it’s probably best to let Aunt Mabel think you’re the dead one. But you get the point, which is always keep a few extra cards around for the last minute panic mailing that’s sure to occur right up to the big day itself. Besides they'll still be good next year.
Yup, sending out the Christmas cards is one of those traditions that help us celebrate this most joyous occasion. I wouldn’t miss it for anything, but why can’t it wait until tomorrow?