I’m not sure at what point in life one is supposed to cross over into adulthood and send out your own holiday cards, rather than having your name tacked onto your parents’. I’m guessing, however, somewhere around 40 is a reasonable time frame.
As with most things relating to maturity, I have been solidly behind the curve on this. I think I sent some cards out once in my 20s, probably because I was drunk. And maybe again the year I got married, because I actually had an up-to-date address list and I was deluded into thinking that being married meant being an adult. But this year I’d moved on past such foolish rituals and was happy in my “no-responsibilities” holiday season. No kids, no shopping to do, no cards to send. No stress. It was a good plan. I should have stuck with it. But then a friend made a comment on Facebook (another age-inappropriate highlight of my life) that “if you knew how excited a 6-year-old gets about seeing Christmas cards in the mail, you’d send them.” OK, guilt button pressed.
So the Sunday before Christmas I pulled out all the boxes of cards I buy every year in my after-Christmas, half-price shopping spree (oh, the yards and yards of wrapping paper and garland I own … never mind that I neither wrap presents nor have a tree) and found my wedding/address list file, and went at it.
Holiday cards are really fucking complicated.
I had two boxes of cards. One was completely non-holiday specific, and one was funny but said “Merry Xmas” on it. So clearly, the Jews needed to get the non-specific card. However, the more religious Christians couldn’t get the Merry Xmas card because of the whole Christ/X thing. And then there was also the fact that Hanukkah was like, three weeks ago, so I had to craft my message carefully so it was obvious that I was really just sending best wishes for the new year, oh, so you happened to get this the day before Christmas … is it Christmas this week? I hadn’t realized. I spent the next two hours doing the kind of analysis into people’s potential religious beliefs that should only be attempted by historical scholars on a civilization that’s been extinct for 1,000 years. I even had to go to the store and buy actual New Year’s cards for the extra-Jewish folks on my list, because apparently my neutral card wasn’t neutral enough.
So I put the damn things in the mail and proceeded to spend the rest of the week worrying about who I’ve offended. Did I write something stupid? Did I send the wrong card to the wrong people? Did I accidentally mention “Christmas” on a Jewish card? What about the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons? Are they even allowed to get cards? With glitter?
Why did I do this? Why? What business do I have sending cards to celebrate a holiday when I’m not even sure what holiday I’m celebrating? Even if there are cards for Christmukkah (and I’m sure there are) you just can’t send those to everyone, and the ones that are really multi-religion and “embrace all faiths” imply some religion and/or faith, which I do not so much have. On December 25th I celebrate the birth of Jimmy Buffett by eating turkey and pie, and wish I still believed in Santa. And really, the only reason to send cards anyway is to assuage guilt about not being in touch with people all the rest of the year, and HELLO, that’s what Facebook is for.
Next year, I’m totally back to being one of “the Turners.” Happy holidays.