It’s time to send out the Christmas cards.
What’s that, you’re done? OK. Everyone hates you, just so you know that. But in the happy spirit of the season, of course, that Christmassy kind of hate, which is really a form of self-castigation. If only the rest of us were like you, the season would be less stressed.
But why are we stressed? Has anyone ever cast their mind back to holidays of yore and thought, “It had its moments — the beautiful tree filling the house with fir-fumes, the merriment of the children as they ripped open their presents like howler monkeys flaying fruit, the deep peace of the evening when the stars shone upon the fresh, even snow. But what I really remember is the card from the Andersons came on the 26th. Really cast a pall.”
It’s important to remember that nothing we are stressing about will matter or be remembered next year — or even by Super Bowl Sunday. You will not get everything done. Nothing will be perfect. The kids will have a vague recollection of wonderful holidays but few specific memories of the day
Once upon a time, people just bought a box of cards at the drugstore, signed them and mailed them, but now we have to present an image of our fantastic, amazing lives. In years past, our family used photos of a summer vacation, everyone smiling in some idyllic location. Message: “Here we are, having the best life!”
Subtext, as anyone who’s ever taken a family vacation knows: It was 4 p.m., it had been a long day, we’d spent $47 for a baguette and we had just left a museum that had an exhibition called “Textiles of Imagination: 15th-Century Dutch Tablecloths.” We picked that because the line was shorter than the one for a Leonardo da Vinci drawing the size of a playing card.
This year, Daughter is gone, off to Brazil, so perhaps we should send out a card with the center ripped away to indicate the gaping hole where she used to be.
Or perhaps we should hold up the dog: “Look, here’s the hapless substitute into which we pour our parental emotions! He’s just like a real child, except for the part where we put a chain around his neck to jerk him away when he finds a dead squirrel when we make him walk around the block naked in his bare feet.”
I suppose that we could get some other kid to pose as Daughter and see if anyone notices. I look at cards from people my wife knows, and I can’t tell if they’re swapping out generic blond kids in ski outfits from year to year. I don’t know who these people are in the first place.
Wait, they’re the Andersons! Their card is always late, I remember that. Ruins the whole season.