Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul laments the guilt brought on by the Christmas (card) season
‘Tis the season for guilt—and I’m blaming the US Post Office. Every day, tucked between the mounds of catalogs and discount Broadway ticket offers are the neatly addressed offenders—Christmas Cards. Or Holiday Greetings if you prefer the PC term. I’m not really sure when the feelings of guilt first set in, because I used to be Christmas card person. I took great pride in picking ornate Crane’s stationery every year and personalizing notes to everyone on my list. I even saved the project for my regular late-November cross-country flight to Los Angeles and set up an assembly line in my trusted seat 38A. My seat companions always looked on in awe of my organizational skills.
But then one season something in me snapped, and I just stopped. I couldn’t bring myself to pick up a pen or even pick out printed cards. And that’s when the guilt set in. Every card that arrives causes a flood of questions to run through my head. Here’s a sampling brought on by yesterday’s mail:
Who’s this from? The signature is intelligible. On Lexington Ave? Chef and I don’t know anyone who lives on Lex, do we? Think. Think. Think. Oh, right. It’s John. My tennis buddy. Wait, isn’t he Jewish? What’s he doing sending me a card with a Christmas Tree? And that cute dog. Did he pick this out special for me? Great. He’s not even the right religion and he got up the energy to send a card. What’s he going to think of me? Am I supposed to send him a clever Hannukah note? Isn’t it over by now? Maybe he’ll just think it got lost in the mail. When do I see him next? Hope he’s not one of those people who asks, “Did you get my card?” I hate that. How am I supposed to respond? That I was too lame and thoughtless to return the gesture?
You can see how I drive myself crazy.
Sometimes NOT getting a holiday greeting from someone is even worse. There are people who I know have their assistants prep the cards—like Tyra or the Billionaire I worked for years ago. I’ve been on their lists forever. Then one lonely December, nothing. What did I do to get taken off a list? Not send a card? Maybe their staff is cross-referencing received cards in a database and assigning a point system—and I lost. Great. Hope I don’t need them for a job reference at some point.
Lots of people complain about those “update” letters that people. I kind of like them—I’m fascinated by the kind of minutiae that people include in those. But I am noticing a steep drop off in the number of those special missives. Maybe there’s no need in the age of Facebook and Twitter since we’re kept in a constant state of personal update.
Come to think of it, maybe that’s a good rationalization for me not sending cards. Consider this blog post my holiday greeting to you. I can feel the guilt lessening already—until I open tomorrow’s mailbox.