Sarge's last post gave me the inspiration for this one. Christmas Cards are a HUGE deal in my house. Not quite as big as the Allied invasion of France, but at least as big as the invasion at Calais or the Amphibious Landing in Kuwait.
After 27 years with the Navy (Reserve, Active, Civilian), 11 moves, and meeting people all over the world, our Christmas Card List is VERY long and VERY hard to track. I wish I could say I use something like this:
But that would mean we were organized and actually wrote down who we need to send cards to. In reality, we're quite disorganized. And this list doesn't track the important stuff, like who did or didn't send cards to us, and who deserves cards like this:
The list of who sent cards to us would actually be quite small in comparison to ours. I'm sure our postman HATES our house- we mail close to 150 cards every season. We semi-argue every Christmas about who gets cards this year. I divide them into these categories:
2. Might as well be Family (super-close family friends)
--High School friends I still keep in touch with
--College friends I still keep in touch with (this sub-cat. is currently empty since the good ones fall into Cat.4)
--People we met along the way during those 27 years, but aren't Navy
--People from work (Kinda Navy but they're probably civilians, like my boss, who is retired Navy, but I digress)
4. Navy Friends
6. Others that don't deserve a card, but for some stupid reason we keep sending them one
7. Why the hell are they still on The List when we never hear from them?
8. People who moved and didn't even take the time to send us their new address.
With the number of divorces our extended family has had (probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 30%), I could add a category called Ex-Family, but luckily there is no semi-argument there- they are decidedly OFF THE LIST!
The last category is the biggest headache-inducing aspect of the list. I'd like to say tough $#!Z, but since many of them are in category 4, the first Naval Commandment pertains: Thou shalt not drop them from The List. So, our mailman gets about 50 packs of these:
By the way, don't ask me what the other Naval Commandments are- I haven't made them up yet. So...., I spend an inordinate amount of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve emailing, texting, Facebook messaging, and if needed, calling- to find out where the heck they are now. Most of the time I know where they are, meaning state, country, or AOR, but the exact address is the #1 requirement to get a Christmas Card out the door. A stamp is #2, our return address is #3, and a correct address is a distant #4. Some of these are easy to find- just send them something on email, but there is another subcategory for all 8- "Those that don't do Facebook" or "Those that changed their email address-WHAT KIND OF FRIEND DOES THAT WITHOUT TELLING US?!" The answer to that is someone who doesn't deserve a card, but Commandment 1 usually applies.
I hate calling people to get their address- we usually wind up chatting for a bit, talking about our lives, our kids, the dog, work, etc., so by the time we're done, we're completely caught up and I've absolutely wasted a good Christmas letter which is also another bone of contention within the Tuna household. The missus is quite a gifted writer. She spent time during a couple tours on the staff of the Bremerton Sun and the Tampa Tribune. She maintains her own blog and has a significant following. The bone is really only about getting it written, and the format for the annual letter. We hate the "My kid is 2 years old and has already been accepted into Harvard"-type letters, so we like to be a bit more entertaining, a little less informative, and a whole-lot irreverent. For example, an excerpt from a past letter:
"Our kids, 9 and 11, were absolutely horrible this year. They don't deserve even coal in their stockings, but will probably get some massively overpriced and overrated piece of electronic gaming junk because we can't bear the thought of being "those parents" who didn't even get their kids crap for Christmas."
Once the letter is written, all the addresses collected for The List, and we've gone to Office Depot to get Holiday-themed paper after we realized we forgot that part of the process, she starts printing the letters and I start hand-addressing the envelopes. That is followed shortly by a return of Office Depot to get more black ink, and maybe a third time to get more paper when we realize that the ink cartridge ran out 50 sheets ago leaving a bunch of too-light-to-be-read Christmas Letters.
As for the type of cards, that depends. Because of 1.Our faith, 2. My involvement in the KofC which sells cards, 3. My dislike of the over-commercialization of Christmas, we typically ascribe to the following:
Therefore, our cards tend to look like this:
After all, he is the Reason for the Season. However, part of me wishes we could send cards a little more like this:
We actually do send some Joyous Holiday Spirit with Holly, Santa, Reindeer, or other secular images and sentiments on them- cards. We have some friends that don't believe in God, Christ, or what-not, so they get some regular ones, but I tend to cringe when I send these. They believe in the commercialism of Christmas, have trees, give gifts, etc., but C'mon- the ONLY reason this holiday exists is because of Jesus. So I shouldn't worry about any perceived offense I may cause. I would love to know what the folks demanding we take down manger scenes from public property would say if we ended the National Holiday that is Christmas. The hippocracy abounds! Anyway, this next type of card works, but being from San Diego, it's a bit unrealistic:
After all, today it was SEVENTY FIVE FREAKING DEGREES here in Sunny San Diego. Way too damn hot for me. Don't get me wrong, I love San Diego's weather, but it's a week from Christmas for Chris Kringle's sake! I know it's not gonna snow here anytime soon, but how about some crispness in the air at least? Jack Frost ain't nipping at anyone's nose here in Sandy Eggo.
However, it was cold in the water today, as evidenced by the folks at the beach:
That was back during Thanksgiving, but you get the idea. Yeah, it sucks to live here in beautiful sunny San Diego.
Back to the Christmas Cards and The List-
The initial Christmas Card mailing is hectic and frantic, but that pales in comparison to the second Christmas Card mailing- the one that follows the annual "They sent us a card? They haven't sent us one in two years so we dropped them from The List!" event.
With The List reaching impossible-to-track proportions since we only use our ever-failing memories and my address book on Google Contacts, we have no real clue who lives where, who sent us one last year, who we sent one to last year, how long it's been since they didn't send us one, who just doesn't send cards, and so on. We’re in the process of developing a website (Tuna'sXmasLetter.joy), but the contractor is way behind and no one has been able to enroll yet, so they all get another paper version this year. However, I promise that anyone who likes their Christmas Card can keep their Christmas Card and we won’t be cancelling anyone from The List.
In all seriousness, reaching out to friends and family is our family's tradition during Christmas, no matter how long it's been since we've been in touch, and whether or not you truly deserve a card from us (snark), our little gift to everyone we cherish. The tradition was set long ago, when a great example was set by another family who gave a small gift:
By the way, I absolutely HATE it when one of our friends publicly thanks us on Facebook for the Christmas Card. Not that I don't appreciate the sentiment, but the fact is, not everybody in our list of friends gets a card. Especially Facebook friends, which fall into yet another category- Friends, but not all of them good enough to get a card. I guess they're more like acquaintances. And my list of Fakebook friends is pushing close to 400- Nobody has that many friends, so into some arbitrary category many of them go. The public pronouncement is a little embarrassing- people may find out they aren't on The List! Oh well, I'll just blast out some Christmassy sentiment on Facebook and make it all better! I gotta go- need to hit Office Depot again.