This is my Christmas card to you

Southern Hospitality

I apologize if you haven’t received a Christmas card from me in the mail, especially if you sent me one, but the truth is, I didn’t send them out this year. In fact, I haven’t sent them but one time in the last eight years. The worst part is I don’t even know why I haven’t sent them out.

I used to always send out Christmas cards. And I’ve saved ones we’ve received like, from forever, filed away with our other Christmas decorations and paraphernalia in large boxes stored in the garage. Every year I lament when the first cards arrive in our mailbox, “I really should send out Christmas cards this year.” But I don’t, and why don’t I?

Well, as is true with many things in life, I wait around and miss out on the good cards. That, or the ones I really like are outrageously expensive and don’t quite convey the message I want to say.

Oh! I think I’d especially like to include a photograph with these imaginary Christmas cards that I plan to send out each year. That alone is daunting.

The last time I can remember sending out cards was 2008, when I included a photo of Katie, Russell and me standing in front of a huge Christmas tree. After that, I kept putting off picture-taking and card-sending. But last year — ahhh, last year, I had no excuse. You see, I had beautiful photos of Katie and Michael’s October wedding. So I decided to DO IT: send out cards with the wedding photo of our entire family.

Sadly, I could not get the photo to download. I was going to send it electronically to CVS — I’ve done this many times before — but it wouldn’t work. Then I took my flash drive over to the photo lab, but forgot to make multiples of this one special 4 x 6. Next, I considered Snapfish, Shutterfly or Vista Print, but the deadline had passed. Plus, I couldn’t find any cards with the built-in frame to surround the photo.

Self-doubt set in and I began to waver, thinking, “Anyway, who sends out wedding photos at Christmastime?” I thought it was a swell idea at first, but was it, really, since I’d never seen it done?

The day before Christmas, would you believe we got a card just as I’m describing from some dear friends in Myrtle Beach with their daughter’s wedding photo? Then it hit me! I COULD do the same thing. But I was out of time, and where would I get decent cards at this late hour?

The day after Christmas I was shopping in Hobby Lobby, and, lo and behold, there they were – not just any Christmas cards, but TWO BOXES of the ones that almost perfectly matched the wedding invitation – ivory with black swirls and a merlot ribbon (the color of the bridesmaid’s dresses.) I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Again, I tried to send the order to CVS electronically and this time – I am not making this up – my ding-dong laptop informed me that I had a dead battery. When I tried to buy one, Batteries Plus said it had to be ordered and would take two business days to get here. Argh! Best Buy (where I bought my laptop three years ago) said they don’t carry laptop batteries, adding that I needed to go to the store where I bought the laptop. Duh! I bought it from THEM!

I went back to CVS, this time with my flash drive, and there was a long line of people waiting for the photo lab. This happened for days, so by the time I was finally able to get the cards done, Christmas had come and gone by a full week.

“Only YOU, Ann,” Russell said, shaking his head when I explained my dilemma. “What do you mean by that?” I asked.  “Well, you send out cards for every other holiday: Valentine’s, Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween and Thanksgiving — but you miss Christmas…”  I cut him off with, “But — is it too LATE to send them out for this year?” He said, “Well, since it’s December 30, yes, I would say so.”

So, this year, here’s your card in the form of a column. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Prissy Pollyanna and Oscar the Grouch.

 – Ann Ipock

Author of Life is Short, But It’s Wide; Life is Short, So Read This Fast; and Life is Short, I wish I Was Taller