December 29, 2013

Family's Christmas cards not what they used to be

When my wife and I were first married, Christmas cards were an enormous deal.

Every card would be personally handcrafted. We would etch them on parchment, paint them on canvas, pound them out on a thin sheet of copper. One year, every card was crocheted.

For some recipients, we would inscribe an original poem. For others, we would send an audio card, featuring us singing in perfect harmony while playing ukuleles.

I would get a tingle of holiday spirit every time we would put a stamp on another slice of Christmas and send it off to a beloved friend or relative.

When children arrived, the Christmas card tradition became more difficult. It was hard to carve out enough time; eventually we gave in and used pre-purchased cards. Still, we wanted everyone to know that they were special, and each card included a long personal message.

It wasn’t long before writer’s cramp took hold, however, and each card no longer included a personal message, though they were personally signed by Steve, Michelle, Ben, Kurt and whatever pet we had at the time.

We tried including a Christmas letter one year, printing off a hundred of the things and slipping them inside “Have a Very Ziggy Christmas” cards, but when my mom admitted that she dozed off somewhere around page two, we realized that our very special friends weren’t very interested in the dull minutiae (“... and in March, Steve had a perfect checkup from the dentist, though the hygienist urged him to floss more regularly”).

Eventually, we settled on the family photo cards, where you take one picture of the kids, set it in front of a Christmas background, put “Have a Merry Festivus” in block letters and poof, you’re done, postcard style. Everything but the addressing.

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