Monday, December 13, 2004

Merry Chrismas to me.

Last week, the male-mail-man delivered the only postal-delivered Christmas card I'll get this year. Why is it that when I am in zero rush to open the monthly mail asking for donations from people like the heat, elec, cable and mortagage folk, I forgo the letter-opening contraption and destroy the outer envelope in multiple ham-handed tugs? Yet a envelope with a gold-embossed return address of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. - something I'm excited to open, gets the slowly patient care of a sharp utensil run carefully along the top in order to maintain its pristine condition? No hurry - destruction. Big hurry - loving care. Paradox.

I closely inspected the signatures on the card by holding up to the light at every conceivable angle, hoping that I'd detect even the slightest indentation. There was none. I review the back of the card for ridges. None. Darn it. If nothing else, the Bush Administration has REALLY good digital auto-signatures. Better than last year's and better than my birthday card. Oh well, maybe next year.

Then I began to wonder. Why have I already maxed out on the Christmas cards that I'll get from the postal service this year? Surely I'll get cards when I get justly jollyfied on this year's Christmas Party Circuit, but the card from the First Family is the only one I'll get by mail. Why? Is a single guy any less important during the holidays? Does he need less love? Then I recall that getting a Christmas card usually begins by someone receiving yours, which eternally adds you to their list. Even if you move 9 times in 5 years, you can never escape Christmas cards. But sending out a Christmas card usually requires one of two things: a wife or kids.

Having a spouse automatically means you start down the path to forever with a comprehensive list of people you've thanked for all the machinery and utensils you'll use to prepare and serve the holiday's meal. A spouse also means that in the last 12 months you've taken no less than 1,408 cute pictures with 704 different backgrounds of which to choose THE PICTURE that will adorn this year's Christmas greetings - even if there isn't a speck of snow or a conifer tree anywhere in it. Any picture including your pet gets high priority, unless your pet is a fish or armadillo.

And kids. They're always cute, even when they're not. What says "they're growing up" more than a picture to your annual pen-pal with a short essay on what the kids have been up to in the last 362 and a half days? One year - braces. The next - perfect pearly whites. One year - perm. Next year - a bob. Anticipation in every envelope.

Having a wife and kids makes Christmas card giving/receiving possible and necessary. I don't have either and I'm not going to rush out and get one or both just to realize the warmth of a fuller mail box or glossy portraits to remove from the center island in early February. Someday when I satisfy one of the above criteria, you'll get a card from me. Until then, I'll save myself from fierce inquiry when now's Christmas cards would contain my self-taken photo from arms-length where only half my cheery face but all my anorexic Christmas tree are visible, expecially when that Christmas card would arrive just before Easter.

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