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Yes, it is that time of year again, CHRISTMAS CARDS!!!  Oh, we wait with baited breath for the deluge of cards that we feel obligated to read but never quite do and end up throwing them away unless we have a wife who has a really cool place to put them and you see them (you never do quite read them all) but it is a season unto itself.  We send them, we get them, however, I intend to classify them and then tell you of the perfect one.  Granted, many of you may be offended at some point but remember, offense is taken…not given.  That being said, and with all due respect, here are some different types of cards and the pro’s and con’s of each.

The “I send one to everybody I’ve ever met so all I do is sign a generic (1000 for $2) card with a manger scene on the front” card.

Pro:  Thorough, you get credit for sending them, you aren’t frustrated by the non-readers, doesn’t take too long, doesn’t cost much.

Con:  You appear as putting in minimal effort (which was your goal), you are spending 70x on the postage than you did on the card.

The “I spent way too much on this super glossy card of my kids that made them cry because it took 1.5 hours to take the perfect picture” card.

Pro: Looks very nice.  Artistically gratifying in the end.  I real keep sake each year…for you and grandma.

Con:  Enables others to judge the crap out of you based on the money/time/poses of the kids/disparity in the card they sent.  Makes your spouse and kids like Christmas just a little bit less each year.  Costs as much as a small car payment.  Can be maddening in the process of getting the perfect pose.

The “Here’s a family newsletter that no one outside of my immediate family really cares at all about” card.

Pro:  You can pick and choose only the great parts of your life and share them with the world to shame them for not having as sweet a life as you have.  You can update those you don’t see often on what awesome vacation you went on and how you really didn’t spend all that money to go to (insert “no way that vacation cost less than 8K” place here).  You temporarily fill that need for attention.

Con:  At best you make people feel guilty for not reading all of it.  You really really open yourself up for judgement and ridicule.  You appear like “those people”.  You are “those people”.  You offend family members who don’t get enough space in your update (they go through it with “word count” and other software to keep score).   Tends to insist upon itself.

Also, there are many different types of “family picture” cards based on the poses.  There is the “Here is my pet in a santa hat”, the “here are my kids in a Santa hat”, the “here are my kids AND pets in a Santa hat, the perfect picture of your kids (not attainable), the family vacation from the summer, the “we already used this picture but none of the “perfect picture” poses turned out to be perfect so we just used this one from the fall”, the super creative Snapfish website collage of pictures, the no kids no pets but we’re kissing or doing a playful pose…pose.

Granted, the timing of the cards is also important.  If you send out your cards before Thanksgiving you probably are done shopping by then as well.  You are slipping into a dangerous pattern that will eventually lead you into being years ahead of actual time.  If you send them out too late everyone will think you only sent them one because they sent you one.  There are the ones you send out late because you ARE only sending it because someone sent you one.  If you send them out after Christmas they are most likely getting tossed directly in the garbage.

I’m sure I have missed many a card/pose/timing comment type.  Please comment and fill me in on further knowledge of Christmas card…ing.

However I did promise THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS CARD.  So, here it is.  I started a tradition years ago (that lasted exactly one year) where I sent one…that’s it, one card.  I went to the store and bought a $3 greeting card.  I then thought and prayed about who could really use a special something that Christmas.  My sister’s father-in-law came to mind.  I then wrote on all of the available space how much I respected the man.  How I thought he was a great father to his kids.  How valuable he was to his family and people like me who simply know him.  He told my sister that the card, “made him feel like Jesus”.  I had found the perfect Christmas card tradition.  Well, the next year I kept thinking about it and never did it and by the following year Rachel and I were dating long enough to send out cards together…you know, the “we’re not married but we’re at this point now in our relationship card?”  Yeah, I’d never heard of it either…I think we were engaged.  At this point, being the man in the relationship enabled (read: “forced”) me out of the Christmas card process.  Now, all I do is promise to get addresses from new people or friends who have moved (and never get her the addresses mind you) and then complain about the entire process until I can write about it on my website.

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