Christmas Cards... A Love/ Hate relationshipConfession: I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas Cards.  I love getting them. But, sending them? Well….

The angst created by trying to choose a card that is both reflective of my sentiments AND respectful of others views….. and doesn’t come across like a tract… epic..  I don’t want to be preachy…. or deny God. I don’t want to send pretentious cards that are more expensive than the average car payment. I also don’t want to send inferior cards that imply: “I don’t care enough to send the very best. ”

I usually just chose: pretty cards. Although last year I went with Charlie Brown. I can’t say WHICH Charlie Brown cards I sent- Because I ran out half way through- and had to go back to the store. THEY WERE OUT OF THE ONES I finally CHOSE. Update: This year I didn’t buy enough cards either. Ran out half way through. AGAIN. I should actually COUNT before I buy them. I suppose.

Anyway- I had to buy different ones. *gasp* my cards are not all the same. I’m afraid some people may feel slighted. Or puffed up by the one I sent to them…. some may be upset they weren’t in the first batch… they were called out in the first round of a Christmas Card Reality show— and then “saved'” at the last minute. I chose Charlie Brown- because apparently- only Linus can apparently quote scripture without being offensive. Unless you’re offended by Linus. Or his blanket. Then: I’m sorry. (For you- not to you.. cause really….. LINUS? Sheesh. touchy. Get a grip.) This years cards= not Charlie Brown.

Once I’ve procured the cards, another crisis arises: Creating the list. WHO do I send to? Who do I not? I can’t afford to send cards to everyone I’ve ever met- (that would involve a detective agency and hiring a database manager. Besides,I don’t have the time or fine motor control to sign that many cards. … so there has to be a cut off, somewhere. But where do you draw the line?  Who do I Christmas Card un-friend? I cannot share the complex formula I use for that… it’s proprietary information. But I will say this: If I don’t have your address readily at hand…. don’t wait for a card. Also: I tend to run out near the end of the alphabet. It’s not personal. It’s alphabetical.

Then… I have to remember how to do a mail merge. GAH. This causes me to move a step closer to the looney-bin. Every. Time. (Please- have you seen my handwriting? I have to print the labels or the USPS would be brought to it’s knees trying to read my scribbles…it’s a public service not laziness.Be glad I sign the inside. It’s a gift of a riddle you have to figure out… “Who’s this from? ” a nice distraction as you’re trying to wrap gifts and clean toilets… you’re welcome. It can even be used as a family game night….” Can you read this? Candy bar for the first to interpret!) The mail merge is just the beginning.

The fun doesn’t stop there. Once I create the mail-merged labels…..I  have trouble  printing them. “Label side UP or DOWN?”  I can never remember. They also get stuck in the printer- causing me to almost swear with Christmas Spirit. Once printed- usually on both sides of the label sheets…..It is  inevitable that I will put (at least)  one on upside down or crooked. I will then try to SLOOOOWLY peel it off without tearing the envelope, Which never works. I then replace it- trying to stick down the now ruffled front of the envelope and pretend that the damage was done at the post office. (Sorry about that. But really… I only have so many envelopes- and labels. And time.And I don’t know how to print just one…. So. Whatever.)

Then, there are the stamps. Which I always forget to buy.Or don’t buy enough of. I end up rooting in the  junk drawer for left over stamps from 1983. (They are right under those rolls of un-developed film. You will need approximately 14 per card for today’s postal rate. You’re welcome, again.) Fortunately- this year I found some “Evergreen stamps” that actually have evergreens on them. Which is much more CHristmassy than say- the Muppet stamps I found in the drawer from 2008 were my backup. I love the Muppets. But they clashed with the Peanut’s theme…. and kind of felt like false advertising. You could be all….”Oh look! Tracey sent Muppet Christmas cards! Oh wait. She didn’t. Bait and Switch!” I could end up sued. by frenemies. Also: not very Christmassy.)

Then, I have to actually take them to the post office. Even just the “drive and drop” box is a little like buzzing by dante’s circles of hell as a Christmas Card carrying vulture at this time of year. I drop them off because it just feels WRONG to make my Post person carry 10,000 lbs of Christmas Cards back to the Post office after carrying 15,000,000 catalogs (ask: seasonal garbage) to my house. (Well… and because by the time I actually finish them… it’s so close to Christmas I’m hoping they are at least postmarked before the New Year.) I usually end up in sin- because I want to ram my Sebring into some person blocking the driveway- or yelling. Somehow ramming people for yelling or blocking just seems justifiable in that moment. It’s not. And I wouldn’t… but I think about it. Maybe.I told you. Sin. If I make it out of the Post office lot without bursting into flames or being arrested….. I’m done.

Unless I have another batch to get in the mail. Like I do, today. Oh Joy. Christmas Joy- I mean.

So yeah.. I like getting them. Not so much sending. I’m selfish like that.

Exception:  when cards and christmas letters are over the top Pinteresting. Those make me feel guilty,  inadequate and like a holiday slacker. (IMO? Some of those epic Christmas Letters? An in your face- my life is great and you’re a mess- note from you know where….but that could just be me.) The perfect Gap like family picture postcards? Totally make me feel like an uncoordinated dork. I’m lucky if I can get a picture of all my guys without one of them doing something… embarrassing. Either on purpose or accident. Let’s just say: I’d have to use stand ins to get a gap- worthy card. I love them- but they like to goof off. My guys are sick of my posing after .3 seconds.

Still- Christmas cards are the original “friends” list.  The number of cards scotch taped to your front door shows how popular you are. (Or, how many insurance companies, churches, causes and stores you personally support. BTW: Marriott and Delta- totally owe my husband Christmas cards. Justsayin. He travels, a lot.)  Or- sadly- how unpopular you are. In which case you tape the fronts of the cards down so no one can open them and see they are all blank (and bought by you to buoy your friendless spirits) or from vendors. Either way: they count. Kind of like facebook- where you may or may not actually know all 742 people in your friends list. (kidding. I know and love you all. I think.) Also? Ecards count. Print them off and stick them up. And Advertisements. Go ahead and stick those up too. whatever it takes to make you feel loved. Cause that’s what they are all about…..right?

Christmas Cards are also a point of  love filled contact with family and friends you actually DO know and care about. In which case- you judge their cards for content- handwriting, cost, sentiment and timeliness. (Unless that’s also: just me.) You know- all the things that stress you out about the cards you send. Oy.

So, yeah. I confess: I love them and hate them.

How bout you? Do you send cards? Honestly- this is the first year in a few that I’ve actually sent them. But- my front door is looking a little naked- so I think my lack of card sending has had me “un-christmas card friended” from friends mailing lists.I thought I better get on the ball- or I’ll end up with just State Farm cards and Target ads next year.

All of this is to: avoid finishing that second batch of cards. That are sitting in the box next to me. Mocking me.

For the record? They are Still Christmas Cards if they arrive after New Years. I said so.

Dear Lord.. we can get our drawers in a bunch at this time of year.. This sounds ridiculous.. but there is more truth in it than I care to admit. I feel so much ridiculous guilt and worry and concern over things like this….help me to focus on you and continue to find humor in my ridiculousness. Help me focus on loving well. And help these cards arrive before Easter- in Jesus name- amen. 

PS: Thank you to my insurance company for sending my return address labels……. You saved me: 1) A trip to office max and 2) the cray cray that is creating yet another label.