My Christmas Confessions

By Janey Womeldorf

My Christmas Confessions

I’m about to go to the dark side.

I am 49, a big traditionalist and lover of all things Christmas. I play Bing Crosby when I write my cards; I take notes throughout the year of things to include in the Christmas letter; and I keep everybody’s cards and letters from the previous year so I can comment on them.

As soon as the cards appear in the stores I start my quest. The image and words have to be just right – humorous but not slapstick, sincere but not boring. As for the letter, I spend hours crafting it and double that checking it. Confession number one: Spelling errors in other people’s Christmas letters glare at me like a reindeer in headlights. (“Alot” is not one word friends!) I itch to grab a red pen and start circling.

Other people’s typos aside, I cherish the tradition of sending and reading cards and letters. What then is my problem?

2012: Cost of 65 cards, 45 U.S. stamps, 20 international stamps, and color Xeroxing of 65 double-sided letters? Hours of my time, five paper cuts, a permanent dent in my pen finger and a whopping $70!

I know Christmas is the season of staying in touch but the price of this joy is shockingly un-festive. The dark side, on the other hand, has no such sticker shock. Yes, I hate to admit it but I am succumbing to the “E” for enemy, email greeting.

I have fought a valiant fight, but my wallet is weakening. If what’s important at Christmas is taking the time to reconnect with family and friends, what difference should it make whether the greeting and letter arrive in a card with a robin or an e-mail with attachment? The problem is, to me – everything. Clicking an attachment just doesn’t ooze Christmas like a red envelope, and I’ve yet to catch a virus from a paper robin.

The traditionalist in me yearns to head out, wallet and list in hand: Christmas cards, color Xerox copies, new printer cartridges because I killed the ones at home printing 130 pages before discovering a typo, and last but not least, spending more hard-earned cash applying correct postage. This last stage is particularly important especially if the cotton-ball bobble on the top of Santa’s hat means the card is no longer flat and therefore necessitates extra postage (embarrassing card lesson of Christmas 2009). Nothing destroys the Christmas spirit more than forcing your recipients to face the following un-festive choice: a) refuse the letter (how Scrooge is that?); or b) pay the mailperson the additional 25 cents required. I preferred not to know what my recipients did. Only someone callous and honest would admit the shameful thought that just popped in their head – it depends on who the card was from and whether their news was worth coughing up a quarter. What if you pay and all that’s inside is their signed name – no news, no message, nothing. Confession two – that drives me walnuts.

I don’t want to be a Christmas-card-and-letter Scrooge this year but here’s the real issue eating at my wallet: Do people even read it?

I have long suspected (or denied) that most people only glance at my two-sided masterpiece; the rest don’t read it at all. If they do, only the women read it; men don’t care about all the extra fluff, they just want the juicy bits.

Two Christmases ago, I put my theory to the test. We had moved house that year, and I purposely typed our new address at the bottom of the second page of the Christmas letter as opposed to on the envelope. I mailed all the cards out by the end of November (with correct postage) to ensure everybody would have our new address in plenty of time. That Christmas, the mailman delivered to our home a soul-destroying trickle of cards in return. It was brutal.

I tried to convince myself people forgot to write down our new address. The truth is, I suspect most readers bailed around page one, paragraph three – the European vacation. Page two’s “How we celebrated our anniversary” probably sealed the deal. Either way, I fear few made it to the finish line, or the new address; even members of my own flesh and blood abandoned ship. Brutal.

I should just do a page of photos. People love photos. They wouldn’t need to be from our latest vacation or anything; they just need to be current enough so people can see the two things they really care about: How much weight we’ve gained and whether we look older than dirt. I know this because – confession number three – I have blurted out at other people’s letters and photos, “Oh my gosh she looks old.”

Maybe that’s why so many parents don’t get in their photos. My final confession: I hate that. If I know you well enough to send a card, I know you well enough to know your age. Get in the photo! We get in ours. I want people to see us, warts and all; that way, when they see us in person, their jaws won’t drop. I must admit, it never hurts to suck my cheeks in and turn sideways a little; black, after all, is just not a festive color for the Christmas shot.

Maybe that’s the compromise: Instead of the card and letter, I’ll just send a single page of photos. That way, the traditionalist in me still gets to send something through the mail, and it’s cheaper. All I’d have to pay is the postage. I could be really naughty and email people ahead of time announcing what we’re doing, and imploring them to overlook my dreadful photo. That way, if there is any extra postage owing, I wouldn’t have to worry.

Some things are worth a quarter.

About this writer

  • Janey Womeldorf Janey Womeldorf once went to work wearing different shoes. She now freelance writes and scribbles away in Orlando, Florida. It’s probably best.

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2 Responses to “My Christmas Confessions”

  1. Rose Ann says:

    LOL! Love this, but I don’t see how anyone would not look forward to reading your Christmas letters!

  2. Janey says:

    Glad you enjoyed it Rose Ann. Happy Holidays!

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