Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Family, Friend or Foe?

Charlie Brown Christmas Tree Shopping
Like Charlie Brown, most of my friends and family this year will peer into the mailbox and call, "Hello in there," only to find I haven't sent them a card. The reason is I've pretty much gone exclusively to using e-cards. I still love sending and receiving Holiday cards, but the electronic versions can be so magical, they're hard to compete with. Consider, for example, those produced by Jacquie Lawson. An English artist, Jacquie got my attention with the Chudleigh series, a collection featuring an extraordinarily clever Black Labrador. Once I saw him, as you might suspect, I was sold.

E-cards are not only environmentally-friendly, frankly, they're cheaper. The annual fee to use Jacquie's site is less than the cost of a nice box of paper cards, there's no postage to worry about, and I don't have to stand in line at the post office. I can write my own message, append an email address, and off it goes. No fuss, no muss, no sticky tongue syndrome to deal with after licking stamps that are supposed to be mint-flavored and instead, taste like glue . Wait, I guess most of them are the peal off variety now, aren't they? Well, they used to require licking.

When I was growing up, my mother bought presents for family, baked loaves of banana nut bread for friends, and sent cards to everyone else. Come Christmas morning, it left no doubt where you stood, as far as she was concerned. That worked fine except on those occasions when we received a similar loaf from my paternal grandmother. If we were family and yet received a gift intended for friends, did that mean we'd somehow gotten knocked down a peg?

And then there was the ever-expanding list. For some reason, my mother insisted on sending cards to everyone who'd sent us one the previous year, as if people keep track of these things. Furthermore, she charted whether our recipients celebrated Christmas, Hannukah, or should simply get the old non-denominational stand-by, Seasons Greetings and Happy New Year. It was quite a project and took weeks to complete.

It's probably no wonder then, that I prefer the e-type and, to play it safe, send them to everyone, family, friend and foe alike. I cover my bases and no one feels left out. Of course, this could produce some genuine confusion. If anyone's counting on a present, banana nut bread, or card in an envelope to inform them whether or not we're related, they're going to be in big trouble.

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