You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, sayeth the most obvious of all clichés.
In an age where constant connection to others ironically engenders very little meaningful human interaction, we’re still left with Xmas cards as our annual shot to impress upon friends and relatives how awesome, sad, and/or verbose we are.
Christmas cards suck in various ways. They are a bromidic, reflexive apology for ephemeral, neglected relationships. They litter our planet. And they encourage our country’s failed romance novelists to chase an unattainable dream, that they might one day actually make a difference with their hackneyed words.
I skipped the whole Xmas card process this year because I wanted to be green, or because I’ve been emotionally crippled by the demise of my relationship. Take your pick.
Let’s have a look at the four basic Xmas card archetypes:
Signature only. My mama’s husband just wondered aloud what he ever did to a certain guy to deserve only an impersonal signature on flimsy cardboard from a “friend”. He blamed the soured relationship on the advent of caller ID, which according to Wikipedia was invented in 1968 and prominently deployed in the US by the late 1980s. By my watch, the lack of a DVR, and the Compaq computer, it’s approximately 1998 in my mother’s home in Ohio.
Inserted too-much-information update note. Nothing ruffles a holiday card recipient’s feathers like a separate letter within the card, folded four ways. Especially if it’s typed in 8-point font, single-spaced, double-sided. If you really have that much interesting to say, tweet it all year, send regular emails, or just pick up the fucking phone every now and then. Did Alexander Graham Bell live and die in vain, you ungrateful sloths??
Family picture cards. I’m treading in dangerous territory here, because all my friends now have kids and send these stupid things every year. But I’ll go ahead and make a few points:
- Your single friends (uh, me) make fun of you. We line up all the family photo cards every year during a secret ceremony called Dissmas and rank the stilted images in order of hilarity.
- Your kids are beautiful, but no one cares. Everyone’s kids are beautiful to them and sometimes others. But don’t use your kid’s photo as your Facebook profile pic and don’t send me disposable testaments to your self-absorption.
- Your dog isn’t part of your family. It’s a dog, and I know it has a name and gender, but signing its name on the card is flat-out creepy.
Short sweet nothings. The emphasis here is on “nothings”—those little handwritten but otherwise insincere thoughts that accompany the premanufactured Hallmark triteness. You know you wrote the same stupid shit on everyone’s card, and it’s even more insulting to try to spice things up by varying between “Hope all is well!” and “Hope you’re well!” I know this approach intimately, as it’s my preferred method. I’ve always envisioned all of my East Cost relatives getting together to compare my impersonal personal notes and rail about what a pompous West Coast liberal sack of crap I am.
I will now course-correct away from Grinchdom and toward a sincere holiday well-wishing from all of us here at The Smatter. May we all enjoy a wondrous winter of constructive discontent with tithes of humor, goodwill, and more awesome posts from Mary that get this tiny little blog tons of traffic.
We hope you’re well, and that the new year brings nothing but carefree philosophical reflection and ROTFLMAOs inspired by The Smatter.
Don’t get too excited, I say that to everyone.