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Monday, December 16, 2013

We Always Got Christmas Cards, or Help, I Can’t Feel My Hand

I am surrounded by small mounds of Christmas cards.

Oh, someone shoot me.  Shoot me now.  I’ve sprained my brain.  I’ve forgotten the word for that thing, that thing on your pants, at the waistline?  The loop, the one that you run a belt through?  What was that word again?  Forty-five cards into the address book, my once-nimble, slightly moist brain is now the consistency of lumpy pancake batter. 

My once-pink, slightly dimpled right hand is now a crabbed shadow of its former self.

Maybe there’s a pill.  Surely there is something wrong with someone who writes out this many cards.  Why do I do it? 

Ha!  I know why I do it.

I do it for the colored envelope. 

I do love to see those colored envelopes in the mail. 

Cards, envelopes, address books, stamps, address labels: from my perch on the couch – also, at this time, now accurately referred to as a “slouch” – I am an island of red and green.

They go out tomorrow.

Chez Pearl, we have three Christmas cards.  We tape them up, the cards we receive, to the doorways.  So far:  a Santa, a Redlin, and a frosted winter wonderland shedding twinkly little bits absolutely everywhere. 

My face will be sprinkled with tiny, stubborn patches of glitter until January. 

Where I’m from, the cards are meant to be hung.  But what does one do with the letters?  Should we tape them up as well? A friend recently shared with me a letter she had received from an elderly relative.  “I am always so impressed with your life, my dear.  So busy!  I never know where you are from one week to another.  Of course, since that botched operation, one week is just as painful as the last.  Oh, well, at least I won’t be around that much longer.”

“Would you believe,” she says to me, “that I’ve been getting variations of this letter since I was six?”

Cards will never challenge you like that.   I feel perfectly within seasonal guidelines, in just writing “Merry-Merry!” or “You know it, baby!” It’s understood, I think, that if you’ve done, say, 45 cards in the last two hours, a mere signature is as good as a hug.

And so I do it.  I do it every year.  I do it because that’s how I grew up, it’s what I want to see, it’s Americana, and I’m doing my best to represent.

I do it for the children.

Now if you will excuse me, I’m going back to my cards, back to the marathon-like watching of “What Not to Wear”. 


The end of the alphabet is in sight.

32 comments:

Daisy said...

Know the pain, and the pleasure, Pearl! I admire your faithfulness to the "Christmas Card".
Have a "Merry Merry"!
love from Barbara and Daisy

vanilla said...

*sigh* I am doing it, too. Probably for much the same reasons you cite.

vanilla said...
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Pearl said...

:-) Kinda up there with the cookie-making...

Bossy Betty said...

Loved this post! Yes! In the middle of the madness I often wonder why the heck I do it, but I always do and am happy I did!

terlee said...

Just mailed mine last Friday. I meant to drive to the post office on Thursday but I had to wait for the spasms in my hand to stop so I could grip the steering wheel.

Still. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Merry Happy wishes...!

jenny_o said...
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jenny_o said...

Good on ya, Pearl. You keep up the tradition for those of us who don't! The past half dozen years, we've had one crisis after another in Nov/Dec. Anything I really need to say to the few far-off people I know, I say by phone, or mail in January.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Courage, Pearl! I do that marathon, too, but mostly to keep in touch with friends who live far away, some of whom have become once a year contacts but who carry memories of more intimate, youthful times. This year, I had to prune my list to exclude local friends whom I see frequently and do a semi-form letter for my more distant friends because I have a book deadline in mid-January. (Just got a contract to write a cat memoir about the two "therapy cats" I once used in my psychotherapy practice. It is going to be published by HCI the Chicken Soup for the Soul publisher early in the fall.) Rushing to get what I saw as the essential cards out, I shared many of your symptoms! It's like many things: it's nice to have written and sent Christmas cards, but the process can be grueling!
Hang in there!

wellfedfred said...

I send cards because I love to get them, it's that simple. And Christmas letters can't be beat for sheer goofiness. One year I sent out a silly verse. Himself's competitive cousin returned an 8-stanza opus (plus envoi) about world peace being generally good except where it inspires suicide. Ohhh-Kay. Himself called her husband to make sure things were all right with them. Oh, said he, you know.

Delores said...

The tradition is dying out over here but I remember those heaps of glittery cards and coloured envelopes...happy times. Go ice that hand now...we don't want a repeat of your wrist problems.

The Vegetable Assassin said...

I think I've forgotten how to write. I spend so much time in front of a computer that keyboards are the norm. Or texts. Writing? Not so much. I even make shopping lists on my phone now. Writing anything tires my hand out in seconds. That's not why I'm commenting though. I'm commenting because last night, due to a back ache and the necessity of propping myself up on the couch half the night, guess what I did to pass time? MARATHON OF WHAT NOT TO WEAR? FREAKY! :)

OK on retrospect, that fact wasn't that interesting...

Launna said...

I rarely write cards... it's a lost art... we need to keep it up ♡

Elephant's Child said...

You are displaying awe-inspiring and very impressive stamina. But please, don't overwork those precious hands of yours.

Joanne Noragon said...

What not to wear. Why can't I fine it when I have a marathon.
Onward with the cards!

Buttons said...

I will be checking my mailbox:) Enjoy the pretty colours Pearl. B

fishducky said...

We (read "I") currently send out 130+ cards, which I design & have printed. I love doing it, but my hand hurts, too!! Happy holidays to you!!

Christian at Point Counter-Point Point Point said...

I'm of the opinion that if I hand write your mailing address on the envelope then it's personalized enough.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari Om
....eemmm... I'm in still in transit...

&*^

But wait till next year!! YAM xx

The Geezers said...

Have at it, Pearl. For myself, though, I rarely receive a Christmas card that I really like, and hence don't really imagine that all my friends and relatives are dying to hear about the boring minutia of my own life, either. (Not that I'm saying you're life is one of boring minutia.)

Besides, the ONLY merit of email, facebook, etc. etc. is that I now can stay caught up with pretty much everybody I want to stay caught up with. HOliday cards are really pretty redundant now, it seems.

Just call me Scrooge, I guess.

Gigi said...

I haven't done cards in the past two or three years mainly because of the unemployment and this year I'm not doing them because of the move. But next year? Next year, I'll be sitting there with you getting hand cramps. LOVE Christmas cards.

Perpetua said...

I love getting Christmas cards, so I have to love sending them. Actually I really do love sending them, though my hand nearly falls off too. I like keeping in touch with people too far away to visit much, if ever, but who still matter to me because of all the memories.

joeh said...

Ahhh, a tradition that will likely end with this generation, replaced by email and Facebook.
(My Wednesday post).

Mrs. Cranky's hand is cramping as I type.

Lin said...

I love Christmas cards. Isn't it fun to open the mailbox and actually get something you like? :) we tape ours to the back of our family room door--and that is the first place we check when we come each day, to see who sent us a card.

I hope this is one thing that never goes away, for I think I would really miss getting Christmas cards.

Al Penwasser said...

We used to send out cards, but stopped after the kids went to college. We also sent one of those insufferable "Look At Us" Christmas letters with them. The task of writing the letters went to me. They were fun to write, but a chore. Although it is nice not to have to put up with them anymore. I just hope our friends and family aren't hacked off. They might be because we hardly get any cards anymore.

Geo. said...

I quit writing Christmas cards when my signature became indistinguishable from a paw print.

HermanTurnip said...

It's funny, but the more Christmas cards I wrote, the worse my handwriting became. I sure hope my friends can decipher what appears to be the illegible scrawl of mad drunkard. At least, that's how the final few looked to me. I'm thinking a re-write is in order...

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Ah, the yearly, "Wish I was Dead" card", I know them well. My mother-in-law couldn't wait for the holidays to tell my children how she didn't expect or want to see next year. Nothing says Merry Christmas like that.

I love "when" my cards are sent out and I enjoy getting them in return. I don't get them from my MIL anymore as she finally got her wish.

River said...

I send a card to my sister who has neither phone nor computer, everyone else gets an e-card.

Daisy said...

I hear you. I just took a break from writing out cards to read a few blog posts--including this one! :D

Jayne Martin said...

I used to love writing out Christmas cards each year. And then when the price of stamps neared 50 cents each, it seemed too pricey. But I like your attitude, Pearl. You've inspired me. Next year, I'm going to do it, by gosh by golly!

Diane Tolley said...

This is my first Christmas in years when I haven't had a book-signing tour. I don't know what to do with myself! Yikes!
Cards! That's a great idea . . .