snow globe

Let me be the first to wish you Happy Valentine’s Day. Why so early, you ask? When it comes to holiday preparations, you need to be thinking months ahead. This year, the Christmas season officially started on September 27th. That’s the day my local Costco put on display several lovely 8’ plastic Snowman snow globes. They always add such a festive touch to anyone’s front lawn, especially when deflated.

If it seems like the holiday season is starting earlier every year, that’s because it is. In the 1960’s, it kicked off the day after Thanksgiving – Black Friday.  By the 1980’s, it began by November 15th.  By 2000, the official launch was the day after Halloween. It is projected that by the year 2050, the holiday season will officially begin on New Year’s Day.

If you have not begun your holiday plans, what are you waiting for? You need to get going on your holiday to do list. Don’t be confused by all the mixed messages about honoring the birth of baby Jesus. The real meaning of Christmas is all about showing your friends, neighbors and in-laws that you have successfully completed your holiday season to-do list way before they did. Today’s lesson is about holiday greeting cards. So get off the couch, put down the remote, turn off the football game and get to work on your cards. If you follow these steps, in no time you’ll be back on the couch, watching the New England Patriots beat the crap out of the Carolina Panthers, the way Jesus would have wanted it.

palin greeting card

Nothing says “Let’s celebrate the birth of our savior” like the exchange of holiday greeting cards. This year my card will feature the traditional Nativity scene image of Santa playing poker with his reindeer — Rudolph is working on an inside straight. To me, opening up the holiday cards is one of the most heart-warming parts of this magical time of year. It’s the time when I get to see the photo of my long lost friend’s two adorable little kids who I have never met (nor ever will) – my, how they have grown. A few key things to remember when you send out your holiday cards:

Get them out early – no later than October 25th. It will really tick off the recipients and make them feel guilty about the fact they had no intention of sending you a card this year.  The number of cards you receive is directly proportional to the degree of guilt you inflict.

christmas card photo of toddlerIf you are going to include photos of the family, be sure to include only photos of your kids and no one else. Even though you’re the only person in your family your friend from college days really cares to hear about, just send them a photo of your kids instead. I am sure they will cherish it .

Do not, under any circumstances, include a personal note. That takes way too much effort. The less you write, the more cards you can send out to people you have not seen or spoken to in years.  When it comes to demonstrating your holiday spirit, the quantity of holiday cards you send is far more important than the quality. Besides, writing a personal note wastes ink, which is bad for the environment.

Do NOT sign your card. Just get a printer to stamp your family name.  I’m pretty sure you can get 5,000 cards like this done at Costco in 20 minutes for $19.95. Nothing says “I care about our friendship” like a generic, unsigned holiday card with the embossed message “Joyous Season’s Greetings and Best Wishes for a Happy New Year” – and a photo of your adorable kids (but not you) postmarked October 24th.

A word for those of you who like to write those marathon four-page, single-spaced annual newsletters. The word is STOP. I for one would NEVER write a long-winded tome about all the minutiae that took place in the past year. What? Why are you snickering? If you do decide to pen the next Great American Opus, let me give you a few guidelines:

  • Enough about your kids’ amazing middle school grades – I am sure they are the smartest kids in the state, but we really don’t need to be reminded that they’re a genius year after year
  • The same goes for their being named captain of the freshman football team, treasurer of the chess club, or winner for best 9th grade essay on the history of the button – You must be so proud. The rest of us? Um, not really interested.
  • Feel free to omit the chronology of your five vacations in the past year, including the memorable five-star Mediterranean cruise or the African safari tour capped by your sunset wine tasting atop the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Our vacation involved a KOA campground. The peak experience? Showering.
  • The fact you lost 30 pounds? Definitely worth sharing. The fact that you’re slimmer than you were in 12th grade and everyone says you look like Halle Berry? We really don’t want to know – even more so if you’re a guy.
  • Happy to read the latest job update. But spare us details like “with this, my fourth promotion in ten months, I am the youngest executive ever to oversee sales and marketing operations for North America and Europe.” You were already starting to annoy us with your Mediterranean cruise. Now you’re just pissing us off.

electronic greeting card

Some of you may think that it’s politically correct to switch from mailing hard copy holiday cards to sending email greeting cards instead. Some of you would be lazy. Nothing says you care like blasting a cute animated Elf holiday electronic greeting card to 400 of your closest friends with a single mouse click. People will surely hold onto your clever e-card for a long, long – CLICK – DELETE – Oops. Sorry.

Oh, and a final note to those lame folks (and you know who you are) who always send out your holiday cards in early February, apologizing profusely (and lamely) about how hectic things were this year (and last year, and the year before that….) I remember just last year, when my friend Martha Nicholson’s holiday card arrived two months late. Talk about the nerve. I vaguely recall some hackneyed excuse involving kidney dialysis and prolonged chemotherapy or something. All I can say is, it better not happen again this year, lady.

So what are you waiting for? Before you know it, somebody is going to beat you to the punch and send you their holiday card first. And if they write you a personal note about their recent divorce or their seriously ill child, don’t take the bait and respond by actually signing your card with a personal note of your own in response. They’re just trying to make you feel guilty. You have better things to do with your time than writing a heartfelt personal note – like watching the second half of the Steelers game.

Let me close by offering this sincere and deeply personal message:

Joyous Season’s Greetings and Best Wishes for a Happy New Year

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

Click here for The Real Meaning of Christmas – Part 2: Decorations

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2010 – 2011

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