Christmas cards date back to the mid-1800s, and like me, they are quickly becoming dinosaurs.
I like Christmas cards. I do not like “holiday” cards.
Somebody sent me a card last year that tried to cover all the bases. It mentioned Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas.
It talked about the “Spirit of Kwanzaa.” This will be my 48th December and I have not had one moment where I felt the Kwanzaa spirit.
I don’t celebrate Hanukkah, but I think it is a wonderful celebration of a great miracle.
When the Maccabees reclaimed the temple in Jerusalem, there was only enough oil to light the lamp for one night. But miraculously, it stayed lit for eight nights, which was enough time to make some more oil.
As for Christmas cards, some folks try to be politically correct. They try to find some happy middle ground.
If you have too much Baby Jesus, folks will think you’re a religious nut. If you have too much Santa Claus, they’ll think you don’t love Baby Jesus.
So, they compromise with a picture of a Christmas tree or Currier and Ives print of a sleigh ride.
Then, there’s the photo card. I actually like photo cards, but would never send one myself.
Photo cards say a lot about somebody.
I like when people have a candid snapshot of their family and they actually appear to enjoy being with one another.
Some people send a card with a picture that is taken in a studio with a fake bookcase backdrop.
I don’t know what fake bookcases say about you. Are we supposed to believe that you were all gathered in your non-existent family library?
Every so often, they make a picture directory at the church. It amazes me how folks will come out of the woodwork to get their picture in the church directory. There are folks who don’t darken the doors on Sunday morning, but will come and get their directory photo.
You have to wonder if they’re going to try to take the directory along when they meet up with St. Peter.
“Look, I’m right here in the book,” they would say.
I used to get photo cards from a family in which the wife and daughters made annual visits to the plastic surgeon. I liked getting their cards just to see what kind of work they had done that year.
Then, there is the boilerplate Christmas letter. How could so much good stuff happen to one family?
“Our son has just become an Eagle Scout. He received his last merit badge by rescuing a bus load of orphans from the side of a cliff during a blinding snowstorm here in Valdosta,” they write.
I guess no one would be interested in my new blood pressure medicine, the news that the aging dog seems to have forgotten about being housebroken and hey, let’s not forget that cousin of ours who has a date with the parole board next year.
What would be wrong with taking a simple card and writing two sentences that express a personal sentiment?
Something as simple as your admiration as a kid for your aunt’s peanut butter sandwiches can speak volumes.
Harris Blackwood is community editor of The Times. His columns appear Sundays and only in the print edition on Wednesdays.