Monday, December 7, 2009

The Christmas Card Conundrum

I started working on my Christmas cards over the weekend. Since I hate getting cards with no news (and worse yet, getting preprinted cards with no signature), I try to write a personal note on every one. It's a big task and as the years go by, it just seems to be getting bigger. The first year we were here, the holiday season came just three months after we arrived on French soil, so it was a snap to give folks an update on how we were adjusting. The second year, I could report on feeling much more at home and our impending visit back to the States. But this year? There's nothing particularly new to report and it just seems the height of arrogance to recount all the various trips we've taken. Biking in Holland, kayaking in Greece, whiling away the year in Paris, seriously what kind of spoiled brats are we? It brings to mind my father's reaction upon receiving a holiday card from an old friend who sent a picture of his family's new ski condo. Fully capable of owning a second home if he so desired, my dad railed that he would take a picture of our backyard shed with a crescent moon carved in the door for the next season's card. Of course, he didn't follow through but he did lead his life always insisting that it was the better part of valor not to brag, whether about possessions, experiences, or children's accomplishments.

So if you're on my Christmas card list, really I tried. Plus if you've been reading along, you pretty much know what I've been up to. In short, life is good and we're busy with the usual assortment of kids' activities, work, school, visits from family and friends, vacations, and such. We miss seeing you, particularly at this time of year, and look forward to hearing some real news about life in your neck of the woods.


Anonymous said...

I'm on the same page with you (try to send slightly personalized x'mas cards,) and your father (bragging makes me cringe.)

Alas, in the era of the highly gifted child, we are a dying breed.

Long live modesty!

Starman said...

You could just include the url to your blog.

Nathalie said...

I don't understand, Anne - why would someone send photographs of a condo with a Christmas card, or write on it about your holidays or your children's accomplishments? Is there some culturally-specific thing I'm not getting? Mine just tend to wish everyone well and happy Christmas. Is the other thing what people usually do in America? I'd be very taken aback if I got a card with a list of holidays or something on it! I'm with your Dad, that's really vulgar.

Anne said...

Nathalie: For the most part, people use the Christmas card not just to send warm wishes but also to catch up on the events of the year, recounting what everyone's been up to, any highlights. So someone might say, "Billy graduated from high school and is now a freshman at State University." In my opinion, it goes bad when that sentence becomes "Billy graduated top in his class from high school, had the highest college entrance exams in the state, all while leading the football to the league championships and being named most valuable player. He's now the star quarterback as a freshman at State University." Do you see the difference? I like hearing news from far flung family and friends; it's the crowing that's hard to take.

Nathalie said...

I get it - thanks for the explanation, Anne. I still find the idea of a (non-boastful) news roundup in a Christmas card unusual, though. I suppose it seems like your close friends would know that stuff anyway, wherever they are, and the distant people wouldn't be that interested...? But it's an interesting cultural difference. It must be difficult to make good events sounds non-boastful, though, and difficult to make sad events not ruin the effect of happy Christmas wishes...?

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