In my household we still mail cards at Christmas. I have to admit we buy only Chinese cheapos. You’ll have seen the type: jolly holly and glittering tanenbaums, super-quaint cottages that can’t possibly exist, and mufflered carolers under candle lanterns in heavily outdated clothing. Sorry if you loathe getting them. I have fun imagining the folks in South China print shops who grind out these clichés complaining, ‘Happy Holidays in all that snow? Ugh!’ and deciding not to visit here.
In recent years the lazier people on our Christmas list have taken to e-mailing those online groaners; the Xmas low cost Bambi bouncing, birdie tweeting, pine tree twinkling cartoons that outdo any printed card for schmaltz. Unfrending is our revenge.
Others actually venture outdoors to find a post office. Sadly however they have spent the year past in an all-season photographic orgy of documenting their good looking and high-achieving kids and grandkids to mail along with their cards. These days the Family of Christ has fully given way to the Family of Fun-and-Achievement…at a summer beach barbecue, on Muskoka chairs on the cottage dock, in bikinis aboard the family yacht, on top of Machu Picchu, with a snake charmer in Marrakech. What’s the messaging here? We make enough to own a second home? Take more exotic trips? Buy boy-toys bigger than yours?
Along with these pics we can anticipate a full listing of offspring success. Fred is a CEO, Cameron’s working in television, Daphne is building houses in Nicaragua, Suzie got into Ivy League, Rodney is student president, and Lily (the little one at the front) was in her first school play – she is already so talented…and so on.
What’s too often missing is something solid on the year past as experienced by the senders themselves. It’s they who are our friends, not their broods, many of whom we have never met.
And why not tell us how you’ll be spending this Christmas? A BBQ on the beach in Florida, on skiis at Aspen, a sleigh ride with neighbours, or just roasted chestnuts and mulled wine by the fire with family and friends? No bragging, just life as you enjoy it at this happy season.
Although I can claim the status of grandfather, after long years of grinding through Xmas letters looking past flocks of colourfully angelic grandchildren for textual tidbits of real information, no descendant photography distorts my own Christmas messaging. Anyway, with my being at my age somewhat forgetful, I rarely remember to snap my (adorable) three grandkids.
While we’re sure to be inundated with pictorial family braggadocio again this Christmas, enclosed with our return cards will be a modest read-at-a-glance round robin with ‘just the facts, man’. I’m content that those who receive cards from us won’t see how cute are my offspring. Keeping their lovely smiles a secret is our way to fight back…even if few get the point.
by Ian Keith Anderson