Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Season's Greetings! It's Christmas season and I apologize for not spending the postage to send you a card to mark the occasion. Hallmark needs the money, you know, and I'm not being a good little consumer unless I spend, spend, spend! That's what the holidays are all about -- just ask any pundit judging the health of the U.S. economy by how much debt we're willing to pile up to pile gifts under the Christmas tree.

If you're on this woman's list, don't use the occasion to send one of those lovely home-made cards featuring the beatific faces of your smiling children. It's Christmas, not MyFamilyMas, according to this Grinch, with whom I'd rather not trade holiday cards anyway. Oops. I'm sure she's offended by my calling them holiday cards. It's Christmas; it's not a holiday.

A friend of mine who is a devout Christian (and who, fortunately, did not lose his sense of humor or good grace when he was reborn) wondered on his blog if he should feel guilty because his holi, er, Christmas card apparently declared war on Christians by featuring a photograph of his family.

I e-mailed him my thoughts that he should not feel bad. While I understood this woman's point, "it would be a shame to see Christmas become just a joyless exercise in proselytization."

In writing back, he brought up another common -- and commonly annoying -- annual practice of including a detailed account of the past year for the family. As if "see how wonderful we look" wasn't enough, they have to spell out how wonderful their lives are too. He wrote that he'd love to see one of these Christmas letters get real:

"....the kids are out of control; little Billy is now on Ritalin to control his violent outbursts, Megan makes mostly C's and a few B's in her special ed courses, and Johnny is also quite the underachiever. None of them are any good at sports, but they do love to play violent video games, and sometimes re-enact the games at home. It's a freaking circus around here. Bill and I both hate our jobs, and are now both on anti-depressants, which has leveled out our melancholy, but totally wiped out our sex drives...."

I told you he hadn't lost his humor! That was hilarious! He then closed by suggesting that I be the one to start the new trend. I wish I could but I'm as much of a poseur as the next guy. OK, maybe not but I have found it strangely coincident that while a reunion with high school classmates I haven't seen for at least a decade looms I have had no trouble finding motivation to go to the gym.

I have been affected less by the "keeping up with the Joneses" syndrome than most. I'm sure many of my former classmates now live in larger homes and drive fancier cars than I do. Many have been luckier in love than I have and married and had children while I live with a cat. Many of them make more money than I do. At least I hope they do -- what with all the spouses and children and houses and cars they're paying for.

I have had successes and failures over the years and, in all, I can't complain how things have worked out so far. I still have the means to grow and the room to do it. I'm not optimistic by nature yet for some reason I still believe in the possibility that my best days lie ahead. Besides, who wants to read the myriad ways I have managed to screw my life up over the years? Even if I could get my cat to smile for the picture on the card.

So, don't worry, if I haven't kept in contact with you. I won't inflict the details on you unless you ask for them.

1 comment:

Jim H. said...

What? No Christmas Card from you this year....come to think about it, I don't believe I've ever received a card from you!

Now seriously, I do believe that those annoying, year-end family updates offers more evidence that we live in a "Culture of Narcissism" as described many years ago by Christopher Lasch.

Indeed, we live in the age of "Me-ism," both in and outside the church.

Merry Christmas!