Generic Seasonal Greetings

I always loved receiving holiday newsletters because they present a blog-like view, in Cliff’s Notes-length of what’s been going with a family during the last year. (My mother-in-law is the Jedi Master of these.) Hoping, perhaps naively, others shared this enthusiasm, we’ve put together one of our own for the last decade and a half. Content has not always been easy to create. For example, in good years, I’ve had less interest in writing for fear of bordering on the bragging side. In bad years, I’ve wanted to just vent: “My company hemorrhaged its market capitalization and the only thing I have to show for it is this itchy T-shirt and a pink slip.” Thankfully, most of my life is banal. (Just.. Like.. Everyone.. Else..)

Newsletter done?

Since having kids, creation of the Christmas newsletter has gone from being a source of enjoyment to being a chore. As in “Oh, crap, it’s December 13th and we still have to take pictures of the kids, summarize the whole year, print the letters, add a personal note and mail a hundred of these”. I suspect others are feeling the same way because there’s been a precipitous decline in the number of return cards, notes and newsletters. Or perhaps they’re trying to give us a hint?
Either way, the perception of choriness and our belief that there’s scant point in sending just a card without a note or picture tells me we should just take this year off.

While I’m on the subject, let me vent a moment about holiday shopping: there has got to be a better way. I will be the first one to admit near fatal incompetence at gift buying. (I have difficulty even with my spouse, and I’ve known her for 20 years.) This year, I ended up doing mostly gift certificates, and it’s not for lack of trying. For example, I stood in Fry’s groping for ideas for the gift for my sister-in-law’s husband. He’s an avid MMORPG fan, playing City of Heroes and World of Warcraft almost nightly. I assume he’s got that genre scoped out, but I wasn’t sure if he would he find amusement with “Prison Tycoon.” Or is he more a “Civilization IV” person? Or maybe he has both games and thinks simulations are for losers with coarse control of their motor skills? After pacing the aisles for an hour, my head hurt and I left without buying anything. Repeat seventeen times. And I’m sure they were at a loss for what kind of obscure biking doodad I might enjoy. Hmmm… “Jim is into cycling,” does that mean he’s a racer, mountain biker, unicyclist or …?

So, I think we’re making this too fomplicated and a source of mutual stress. For next year, I suggest we not buy presents for anyone over thirty. Instead, buy yourself something special or, better yet, let’s try to see each other more often?

6 thoughts on “Generic Seasonal Greetings

  1. Hehe, you are making this far too hard. My philosophy when in gift-giving doubt is to pick a store I know my intended recipient would like to shop at, find something interesting from there, and buy it and get the gift receipt. You don’t like the gift, you get to roll again. (This, by the way, is how I rolled for you.) The thought that counts is then in the *where*, not the *what*, and it takes the pressure off.

    Also, for the record, my husband will buy most computer games he wants on his own accord in record time, though Prison Tycoon amuses me for title alone. Fry’s is, in fact, his perfect store though, so if you are still stuck, pick a projection clock or sound machine alarm clock or a gaming mousepad, etc. and be done with it. 🙂

    And, also for the record, my Christmas cards aren’t out yet either.

  2. Hahahaaa.

    Oh, god, I feel the same way in so many ways. Especially for those of you I don’t see very often. Said spouse you had trouble with is easy for me, because I listen to his everyday ranting and raving, and we game together. Your spouse, for example, provides me with a little more trouble.

    And yes, we *do* say the same thing about your obscure biking doodads.

    (And I always love getting those holiday letters too, although I must admit that a certain former coworker of mine, who sends out a double sided, no pictures narrative of the year broken down by family member is really tedious. I, however, haven’t sent out Christmas cards in two years. I’ve noticed I’ve gotten less this year as well. My thought is that others are as lazy as me!)

  3. We’re all with ya.

    Of course, that’s speaking as someone who’s already sent you a Christmas parcel, so I guess I’m a “fine one to talk”! But having said that, we’re still managing to trade on the “coming from Australia” factor with most of our overseas friends! 🙂

    Cards and letters… we haven’t done our cards yet, tonight might be the night. We don’t have a letter, because, well… we’re just a bit boring! We enjoy receiving them from others and we occasionally think about doing our own, but we usually manage to overcome the urge.

    I try not to buy gifts “per se”. I TRY to only buy things that “speak to me”. That’s why Steve’s sister ISN’T getting the Bono book (even though she would probably like it), but she’s getting the thing I saw in a shop last night that “spoke” to me. Trouble is with this method that I end up with 8 gifts for my friend Cathy and none for her husband! LOL! But at least in my saner moments I can laugh about it.

    Has the “grumpy old men” and “grumpy old women” Christmas shows screened in the US? They’re British, so there’s a bit of cultural stuff to wade through, but apart from that, they’re hilarious! They describe perfectly all the issues you’ve raised and the perspectives from the gender viewpoints are great. Watch the men first!

    Oh, and I’m all for gift cards too!

  4. ” Instead, buy yourself something special or, better yet, let’s try to see each other more often? ”

    Or in many cases the real gift would be seeing each other less often…

  5. I’m starting to reconsider the whole gift giving experience in and of itself. Yeah, gifts are great but I don’t have but two kids in my life (and they live distant) so most of the people I’d buy for are 1) adults, and 2) probably have everything they could possibly want anyway. I figure it’s time to start reforming the holidays: make it about sharing a meal and some time, even if that time is only “hey, want to hang out for a couple of hours and talk trash about the latest [fill in interest here]?” We’ve too much stuff in our lives and not enough time for those we like and love. Delete me if I’m too serious for the season, ‘k? 🙂

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