And waited. The next card to come was from the YMCA. Then State Farm- even though I had switched policies last August. I told myself I wouldn't hang these cards. There were several days where there was nothing but bills and January magazines. What a let down. Where were my Christmas cards? Earlier in the season I felt like I was dripping with friends. My lack of Christmas cards made me feel like Philip & State Farm were truly the only ones I could count on in life. What is the rule- how long do you have to know someone before you send them a Christmas card? I like to think I had acquaintances that crossed the friend mark in 2015, but maybe I was wrong, because I never received a card this Christmas. Should I have been in your sorority? Should there be financial interest in our relationship? We've shared drinks and laughs, where the hell is my card? Am I not enough? I swear I'm not needy.
I don't send out Christmas cards and this could be part of the problem (probably a lie I just tell myself). The last time I did was when Breana was 3 or 4 and I made her dress as Marie Antoinette and it said something like, "This holiday season, don't lose your head. Just relax and eat cake instead!" I thought it was clever but looking back on that time, I guess I was going through some things. I expected to get a lot of feedback from that card but there were just crickets and the occasional call from Mom, "Kristen? Uncle & Aunt So-and-So received your card and they don't understand..." or "Kristen, I got a call about your card and people are worried about you." The following year I bought boxes of Christmas cards and signed them with my hand, old school style with some personal, dumb ass message like, "May your days be merry and your new year be prosperous!" My hand hurt from writing. And then the Christmas cards started pouring in and that must have been the year where everyone had hired a photographer and nobody was bloated. Little girls were in Matilda Jane. The Mom and Dad coordinated perfectly with plaids and polka dots and they didn't look hungover. Cards were all a matte finish and even had a last-call photo on the backside. Folks had stepped it up and I just stared down with my blistered hands and my shaky handwriting on some sparkly cards with a stupid winter scene and I decided in that moment to halt the Christmas card giving process in life. I would go on only to receive.
I should have sent out cards alerting friends that I wasn't sending out cards anymore. I thought I had friends, but the year I stopped mailing out cards, my cards were almost cut in half on the receiving end. Had I just been an afterthought all this time? Oh, here's a card from Kristen, hurry, go into the reserve stack and send her one! Do people think you should only get a card if you give one in return?
The worst is when people post pictures on Facebook or Instagram of all of their Christmas cards they've received. I can already see any day throughout the year that you have 1200 "friends" on Facebook or 35k followers on Instagram. Need I be reminded of this and see you post pictures of your card wall with your hundreds of Christmas cards and how you're drowning in picture-perfect friends? You have friends! Good job! And then my brain starts doing weird things and I think my life might feel more warm and complete if I, too, send out Christmas cards. Maybe next season. Maybe I'll hire a photographer and we'll go outside in September or October and dress like it's cold outside when really we're sweaty and miserable. We'll make it look like we have a perfect life, like we brush our teeth every night when really my daughter would have forgotten to brush her teeth and I'd argue with her during the photo session and she'd yell back that I've ruined her life and then I'd say sternly, "Give me your phone" and then I would have indeed ruined her life and we'd smile fake smiles. And then again, maybe we won't. My friend, Abbie, comes up with a funny and clever card every year. I love that. My sister, Nicole, took an iPhone photo from an outing and used it. I think that's great & resourceful. My friend, Alison, complained how her daughter wasn't wearing pants. That's real. Sometimes our best shots in life are when we forget to wear pants. I think what I like the most is knowing the imperfect backstory to an otherwise seemingly perfect photo.
I'll never understand those Instagram accounts where you can buy followers and likes. Why? It's fake so what's the point? But (!) what if there was a company where you could buy random peoples Christmas cards? Like 'The Wedding Ringer'-where the guy bought his groomsmen because he didn't have any friends? I thought it was a cute movie. Perhaps I should start collecting other peoples Christmas cards before they toss them in the trash and I'll create an Etsy business for next season. Hosting Christmas but your card wall is lacking? I'm not above filling my chicken wire with 10 extra cards of folks I don't know. I bet I'm not the only one. You could purchase in packages, like fillers of 10, 20, 30, etc. You could even purchase the Diversity Package to show people who enter your home that you have Asian and Black friends, when maybe you don't in real life. You know a gay couple! But you don't, really. You could order the Model Package where the mom, dad and kids are all ridiculously photogenic and they all look like they have their shit together because everything is monogrammed. I personally would order the Real Life Package where the Dad looks like he was drugged and dragged to the photography location, the Mom looks worn out and hungover and the kids are all jacked up on bribery candy and have red noses from crying.
If you'd like to donate your Christmas cards to my future business venture, I can provide you with an address. I can't say I won't hang your card on my chicken wire until the season is over before tucking it away until put in a package on Etsy next year. It might just hang in my foyer for a while... next to Philip, State Farm and the YMCA.
Merry Everything, my "friends",