Monday, December 22, 2014

The Christmas Card Standoff

I don’t know when I started paying attention to such things, but I’m beginning to scrutinize my Christmas card list.

Once upon a time, when my address book overflowith with relatives near and far and an
overabundance of friends, it would take several boxes to get out my yearly sentiments.  Nowadays I’m more discriminating as to whom I send out cards, basically because I’m cheap and a little lazy.

But it’s also that as I’ve gotten older, I pay more attention to who really matters in my life.

Older aunts and uncles always stay on the list.  I love them, they’ve been fixtures in my life since childhood, and it’s respectful.

Cousins for the most part stay on the list.  Over the years, a few have dropped off, as our lives went into different orbits and we finally realized we no longer had anything in common.  Card sending was a formality that we realized was no longer necessary.

But friends are the real wildcards.  Some stay in your life forever, others just pass through, others are friends but don’t rise to Christmas card level (and only you can determine what that threshold is).  This is the group of recipients that most often play the Christmas Card Standoff game.

For example:  A certain friend has been on my list for years.  I worked with them umpteen
years ago at a job that I barely remember.  At the time, we were good buds – doing lunch together a lot, commiserating together about the boss, sharing little kid stories.  But I couldn’t tell you the last time I actually saw this person.

If the last time I actually saw this person, shoulder pads were in fashion, it’s time to cut them loose.

I made the conscious decision to not send them a card.  I debated, but I made the call.  Now I’m waiting to see if I get one from them.  If I don’t, I know they felt the same way, and thank goodness.  I don't take it personally if I've rotated off their list of recipients.

Sometimes you get lucky and the card you sent to them comes back as undeliverable, unable to forward, whatever.  Hey, you tried.  If you run into that person in Price Chopper months later (after unsuccessfully trying to avoid them by ducking into the cereal aisle), you can say oh, I tried to send you a Christmas card, I figured you (moved, went into the witness protection program, died, fill in the blank).

Every day at the mailbox now is like spinning the roulette wheel.  Checking return addresses for people deliberately left off your list just adds to your holiday stress.  And if you see an address of someone you didn’t send a card to, damn!!  Now you have to get one off to them ASAP if not sooner, so you don’t look like a schmuck. 

It’s three days before Christmas as I write this.  I know who I didn’t send cards to.  I’m hoping they didn’t send cards to me so I can be relieved of this particular holiday guilt.  It’s the Mexican Standoff of the season.  Aye carumba!  Merry Christmas to all!!

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