Saturday, December 15, 2007

&*%#@!() Cards!

We got our first batch of Christmas cards today, and they are decorated with fancy foil scenes of ornaments and trees, and are very pretty, but damn, I hate Christmas cards.

I know that this is a horrible and "Grinchy" thing to say but I've come to hate them. The reason I hate them is twofold.

The first is the fact that I hate to fill them out every year because I feel I must include some sentiment beyond what Hallmark has provided, as no Christmas card is complete without some minor well-wish, no matter how ham-handed, but I also begrudge the expense. Hallmark gets richer ever year, on every occasion or holiday, because people can't seem to say what they want in a letter or face-to-face. I would rather all the people who send me a Christmas card would send the money they spent to the local foodbank, or the charity of their choice, as this is the time of year when these people really need the help. A box of cards is $10, plus 32 cents postage a card works out to $13.2o. If ten people did this that is $132.00 to those in need. (Think of the folks who are homeless, or are the victims of Katrina, or wildfires, etc.) Also, I'm lazy. I don't keep track of who sent me a card the year before, as if this were some kind of merit/demerit list. You sent me a card last year so I am obliged to spend the money and send you one this year. Hell, my old dentist sends me a card for Christmas and my birthday but I don't feel obligated to send him one. He is just fishing for business.

The other reason is much more personal. My Dad's birthday was Dec. 25th. He used to laugh and say that the whole world celebrated his birthday. He died six years ago and I still get misty when I think of it. He was the most wonderful man I have ever had the privilage of knowing, and his passing has put a shadow over this holiday for some time. This year I promised Flannery to put this behind me and muster some holiday spirit, and as I can deny her nothing, I've tried. I have tried to enthuse the kids and I have kept my "bah humbug" to myself, but I have grown to loathe Christmas music and I don't help with the decorating anymore.

My most favorite memory from childhood was at Christmas with my Dad. We sat in the livingroom of our stone house by the tree at night, with a large fire built in the fireplace, and tuned in Christmas carols on a sixty year-old Philco radio. It took ten minutes for the tubes to warm up. It had one speaker and it was made of Bakelite, but by the amber glow of it's dial and the glint of the tree, we listened. I watched my Dad sit and use sign language with his right hand and follow along with "I'll be Home for Christmas". He had a look of contentment on his face as if he had just realized all his dreams. Almost all of his children were grown and off on their own. He had a beautiful wife of many years and a nice white Ford truck, and his beard was coming in nicely. Work was steady and he had thirteen acres of paradice, as well as a spot on Ceder Hill cemetary in the family plot by the cannon. His home and his tractor were paid off. He ate good, even though he was as lean as a fence post, and once a year, he bought a six pack of good German beer and drank one, just to remind himself of of his time spent overseas. (I drank the other five. If you leave five beers sit in the greenhouse for six months, they are fair game.) After that, we pulled the sofa up to the T.V. and watched "Lawerence of Arabia" with my brother Bill, and I held the popcorn bowl in my lap.

I will treasure this memory always.

For everyone else this is a time of celebration, yet to me, this is a time of mourning the greatist loss I've ever known. I put on a brave face and something of a grin, and extend my heart-felt well wishes to everyone I know, as I truly love them, and want to share a small spark of the spirit of the season with them. This truly is a grand holiday. For a few days out of the year we contemplate the love we share with others, and the grand culmination of what humanity hopes for: peace on earth.

My greatist wish is that you and yours enjoy a special holiday like the ones I have known, but please forgive me if I don't send a card. I sent yours to the foodbank.



  1. Dude, where've you been? Stamps cost 41c, not 32c.

    In order to personalize your cards, I would suggest including pictures of your butt, but knowing you, you'd do it and then Flannery would have no choice but to kill me for suggesting it.

    You're totally right about giving $10.00 to the homeless instead of buying cards. That's a great idea. Of course, some people could do both and that would be great, too.

    I know your dad was a vet and I think that you might feel better about Christmas if you could do something special to honor him. Get a hold of the VA and ask for information on volunteerism. Spend a day doing something "Christmasy" for the local vets. Just do it for a day and then dedicate that day to your father. I only met your father a few times, but I really think he'd like that.

  2. 'tis easy for ME-- I ain't gots no friends that i don't talk to 5x a day so they already know everything that's going on and no Hallmark sediment is necessary. If you weren't so whigwham GREGARIOUS, you wouldn't HAVE this problem.

  3. What ever happened to the Philco? Maybe you could still tune in some Christmas tunes on it.

  4. My mom was born on Christmas also Doc! She passed away a few years ago and I share some of your same feelings about Christmas now.

    I am going to spend the money on your card on buying myself a beer, OK?

  5. Your dad is probably pissed off you're wasting sadness on him - pop the bubbly and honor your dad with a glass raised in the air and a big smile already!

    Oh, and I make my own cards every year. It costs me a little bit of printer ink, about 25 sheets of paper, and the cost of the stamps.
    Think of it as giving to the USPS.

  6. I also make my own cards every year. Usually it's some political sentiment that's really inappropriate for the season. Making them is actually part of my balm against the melancholy of the season.

  7. Thank you, thank you all. I have felt so off kilter about Christmas for so long, I was begining to think I couldn't enjoy the holiday anymore.

    Skyler's Dad and GKL are right. I need to give up my grief and just honor him and all the wonderful things he gifted me with: life, love, and learning. So please, as you read this, lift your glass high with me and say aloud, "Thanks John Riley, and Merry Christmas to All!"

    E: I'd love to help the Vets, but I am strapped for time. 41c, really? Shows you the last time I mailed something.

    HL: Thank you for "Hallmark Sediment". I promise to use it soon.

    BSUWG: The Philco was lost in a flood, but it would have been grand to sit with my kids around it.

    Vikkitikkitavi: It is grand you have this tradition and I'm sure your friends and family would be a little hurt if you didn't. It shows you care.

    Skyler's Dad:Please, treat yourself to a very good beer. Might I recommend a cold Red Stripe? The label is red and white so it goes with the colors of Christmas, and after all, nothing says Christmas like Jamaican beer.

    GetkristiLove: You're right. This Christmas I take off the black armband and celebrate. He would have wanted it that way. And next year, the girls and I, are going to sit down and make all of our own cards.

    Thank you all. This helped a lot.


  8. I was going to say 'make your own' too but I'm late to the party I see. That's a wonderful memory you've shared Doc. Send a card with that story on it.


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