Say it now. Groan. I know.

Okay, so I don’t want to offend any possible readers. Do I have readers? I know there are a few…but anyway…I just feel compelled to think about this, and then I swear I’ll move on to more light-hearted fare for a while. Of course it’s not a big deal. But my thought-process works like this: I see something that makes me think of something else, and pretty soon I start thinking about correlations, and then I start thinking about how those correlations might be kind of funny or absurd or weird or simply tragic, and then I have to write it all down so all this stuff will get out of my head. And then I can sleep.

Anyway. I can’t help contemplating the downward spiral of Christmas cards. Thus far, I have received four cards, all very lovely, but all nearly identical. They are photo cards, pre-printed with names, and stuffed into an envelope that’s addressed with a label. And I just feel weird about them.

Lest I be construed as ungrateful, I’m not. Truly. I’m glad to be on these people’s lists and on the lists of people whose cards are yet to come. I guess I’m more of a traditionalist about some things, though. Thank-you notes need to be written, and written promptly, and not be e-mailed, and not be sent in an envelope that I have addressed myself. If I give you $50 for a shower gift and $100 for your wedding, spend two minutes to write me a note, damn it. But back to the cards. I just see them as mass mailings that I feel guilty about throwing away.

It’s so rare that I receive anything in the mail that’s addressed by hand. I have always looked forward to cards with a little catch-up note from a friend I haven’t seen, a photo here and there, or even just holiday greetings and a signature. It’s like, hey, this person took 30 seconds to write Merry Christmas to me. That’s nice. What pretty penmanship. I need to send a card to her. It’s nice to be thought of. Auto-cards make me think of being an entry in someone’s Excel file and just another label to be slapped onto an envelope. When I send cards, I actually think about the recipient as I sign it and address it. I don’t know…it’s not as though this is some sort of serious issue or anything, and it’s obviously nothing personal against auto-card senders, but…well, you know.

I know people are busy. I’m busy. I know people are tired. I’m tired. I know people feel morbid obligations to send cards. I feel those same morbid obligations. But for God’s sake, if nothing else, get a Sharpie and sign your own damn name to the thing. And don’t have the cards preprinted with “The Smith’s”…which is completely incorrect gramatically on top of everything else. Would it kill you to address some envelopes? Maybe I’m inflexible (which would gall me to no end). But there are so many distractions and things that pull us away from our relationships with people and allow us to interact on the surface instead of dipping below it. And I guess I feel it’s worth a couple hours of my time, once a year, to think of someone as I drag a pen across paper and wish that person well, in my heart as well as on a card.