I didn’t send Christmas cards this year. Not a decision I made lightly. After all, I wrote a research paper in graduate school on the longevity of the greeting card, my thesis being that regardless of advances in technology, people still get that excited twinge when they receive a personal card in the mail. I do.
In fact, each year, as I pull down my Christmas ornaments (about ten seconds after Thanksgiving dinner concludes), I wade through my Christmas cards from the previous year. Oh yes, I keep them. This year as I read through the 2009 cards, it struck me that no one (except Grandma Noon) actually writes anything in their cards. Instead, I have pictures of all of my friend’s kids with their pre-printed family name at the bottom.
So this year my struggle was two-fold. First, do I schedule some pricey photo shoot so I can send a picture of me and … oh, I don’t know, the dog, to my friends and family? Or, do I skip the fanfare all together?
At about the same time I was lamenting, one of my Facebook friends posted the news that her annual Christmas newsletter was finally complete. I had to chuckle. (And privately message some other Facebook friends to share my snarky comments.) Now, I have never actually received a “Christmas Newsletter” from anyone, yet the stories associated with said newsletters often rival that of a fruit cake. Meaning, no one actually wants to receive one.
Anyway, that got me thinking. Isn’t the purpose of Christmas to send good tidings and cheer to others? So, how does reading about the mundane happenings of your family’s past 365 days bring the Christmas spirit to my house? And then … it hit me. Facebook may be the new Christmas Newsletter.
Just brushed your teeth? Status update! Just wet the bed? Status update! Just made a tuna sandwich? Status update!
Just put a piece of tinsel on the tree? Status update! Just bought extra tape? Status update! Just yelled at Lord & Taylor for cancelling your order instead of shipping your order (this actually happened, but you won’t see if on my Facebook page)? Status update!
But, I digress. Back to the Christmas cards. I scratched them from my to-do list and felt an immediate sense of relief. Right up until the first card arrived in my mailbox. And, ever since that first pang of guilt hit, I haven’t been able to stop obsessing about the year I didn’t send Christmas cards, as it will forever be known.
As any good obsessive compulsive should – I ensure that Christmas is a well-orchestrated machine. I make sure that all of my rolls of wrapping paper match, that all my ribbons match that wrapping paper, that my tags match my ribbon, that my gifts are themed (yes, I’m that person) and that every card includes a personal note – a connection with the recipient - which is exactly the reason why I skipped cards this year. I couldn’t muster the energy to write personal notes to my ever growing list. My worry over whether or not I would think of something clever to say overwhelmed me. And, now I feel like crap.
I realize that this is not your problem. However, I also realize that the majority of my Christmas card list is probably reading this right now. (Light bulb!) So, now that I have your attention, I wanted to let you know that my column today is dedicated to you. Yes you, my friend, who means so much.
Close your eyes. Well open them now silly, or you won’t be able to keep reading. Geesh. Picture a card. It’s a nice one -- weighty card stock, glitter, ribbons, foil lined envelope – only the best for my dear friend. And the message inside, pure poetry, courtesy of one of the world’s most recognized writers --
“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?
It came without ribbons. It came without tags.
It came without packages, boxes or bags.
And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
You lift my spirit all year round, with laughter, smiles, silliness, emails and yes, status updates.
I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas.
Crossing the Line appears every other Wednesday. You can reach Courtney at email@example.com.
March Writing Assignment
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