Tuesday, June 25, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 16

Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on December 22nd, 2009, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 10, Issue 41 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 10, Issue 41

Christmas card detective

Krider lays out what mailed matter really means


This time of year, my mailbox fills up with lots of Christmas joy and a little bit of Christmas anxiety. The joy comes from the many Christmas cards I receive from long-lost friends and can’t-seem-to-get-lost family. I love seeing pictures of my friends and their growing kids. I like knowing I’m not the only one saddled with two kids high on candy canes who give me a revised Christmas list on a daily basis. No parent wants a Christmas card from one of their childless friends showcasing a photo of them gallivanting across Europe. I certainly don’t want a card like that after I’ve spent my day gallivanting through the Target toy aisle, fighting off other parents for the last Wii Rock Band Lego Edition video game.

The Christmas anxiety I get from my mailbox comes from knowing that I bought all the presents under the tree in lieu of paying some bills. Opening my mailbox is like a game of chance. Will it be a Christmas card or a notice that my electricity will be shut off? Maybe it will be the water they are going to shut off. I can’t remember which bills I paid. Let’s hope for the water, because we need electricity to play Rock Band (and who needs water when the fridge is full of Sam Adam’s Winter Brew?). I cross my fingers, open the mailbox and … good news! The only thing in the mailbox is a coupon for pizza, which I will use immediately, and a Christmas card from my friend, Ryan. Well, let’s be honest, it’s a Christmas card from Ryan’s wife, whom he loves. I didn’t get a Christmas card from my friend Ryan until he got married five years ago and now his wife sends me one every year, complete with family photo. Yup, Ryan’s kids inherited that nose of his. Poor things.

Over the years, I have learned you can learn a lot about what your friends are up to by their Christmas cards. I’m not just talking about the picture on the card either—anyone can recognize an ugly kid, except for the parents who had it, of course. Christmas cards give away several subtle hints about your friends’ lives. For instance, if the photograph is of just the kids, as opposed to the whole family, that means Mom or Dad is a little heavier this year than they want to be and they don’t feel the need to advertise it to everyone. Ironically, by not putting themselves into the photo, they did just that. I have a pretty healthy imagination, and when they’re missing from the portrait, I let it run wild. I imagine the person is Oprah fat.

Additionally, the quality of the cardstock, ribbon accents, foil lined envelopes, and a professional photo shoot in the park can tell you a lot about your friends’ finances. Even in this economy, business must be good if your friends spend that kind of dough on a Christmas card. This time of year, I can barely afford the postage necessary to mail my Christmas cards, let alone hire a photographer to follow me around waiting for a tender moment between me and the kids. I hope he isn’t paid by the hour, because my kids are pre-teens, and it could be a while before one of those tender moments arises (if ever again).

Some cards tell you about your friends’ priorities. Case in point: the photograph of the whole family, including the family pet (dog, cat, iguana, whatever) dressed in a Christmas sweater. You can tell from this photo that your friends spend a lot of their money on pet food and ridiculous pet clothes and that, during Christmas, the inside of their house must smell like pine trees and kitty litter. My wife, whom I love, looks at this card and says, “If they bring over a plate full of cookies or any other baked goods, don’t eat them. They look like the type of people who let that animal of theirs walk on the counters.”

Obviously, the Christmas card that shows up in your mailbox on Jan. 5 is from your slacker friend who procrastinated getting her cards out. She’ll blame the whole mix up on the post office, which is sad. This is the sort of shameless name calling and finger pointing that causes postal workers to lose their minds and murder one another.

As much as I love Christmas cards, the one I actually despise is the card that comes with the one page, single spaced, 10-point font, Christmas Family Letter Yearly Update. These letters are often just brag fests: My kids are cuter, my job is better, our house is bigger, and our vacation was grander than yours. In actuality, these letters are very carefully scripted to make that particular family’s life sound like the most wonderful thing ever. Don’t believe what you read. Trust me, nobody’s life is as good as Christmas Family Letter. Example: “John really enjoys his new job,” actually means John was laid off earlier this year. “Little Johnny scored his first soccer goal this year,” translates to Johnny is failing mathematics. “Little Jenny did a violin solo in this year’s Christmas pageant,” means Jenny’s acne is really out of control.

None of the stuff you read in these Christmas letters is legit. I’m sure Tiger Woods’ Christmas letter will read something like, “We got a new car recently, and Tiger is taking a break from golf to spend time with the kids.” There will be no mention of the 13, I mean 14, I mean 15—who can keep up?—girlfriends he was with.

I keep my Christmas cards nice and simple (my wife does, anyway): photo of the family, no pets, no letter, with the simple and now controversial words “MERRY CHRISTMAS!”

Send all of your Christmas cards to Rob Krider at the Sun, but replace the photo of your family with Starbucks gift cards.

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