This year was the first time in about fifteen years that I mailed Christmas cards. I probably offended more people with sending them than if I had not. It was like a duck shoot in which I received cards and said OH CRAP! I missed that one! It became evident that I did not have a complete list of addresses to work off, but I will get that together over the next year and probably never send them out again.
Truth be known, I have a bad association with Christmas cards. I recall at an early age that my parents knew something was wrong within a relative's family when they did not receive a Christmas card. So I figure if everybody stays nice and irregular about cards, then there will not be anxiety alarms going off over the sending or receiving of them.
Christmas gifts are another matter...
I was seven or eight when I incurred my first experience with Christmas gift-giving. I had little money in my pocket, but I needed a gift for Dad. So I walked to Avenue N, to Avie's, our local family-owned, variety store and labored over the perfect gift. I desperately wanted to buy Dad the Old Spice gift set, but I did not have enough money, so I settled on Old Spice stick deodorant. That was as close to cologne as I could afford.
I wrapped it, eagerly gave it to Dad and noted the soured expression cross his face. I am not sure if he said, "Oh, so you think I need deodorant, ey?" or I just saw the bubble over his head. My siblings laughed. My gift was worse than a dud, it was a bomb.
I later learned that my best friend, Susan, had purchased the same exact gift for her father, but instead of grumping up, he displayed an unnatural excitement that roused her suspicion. She said her mother probably threatened him that he'd better get excited over it. (illustrating that behind every gracious gift recipient is a friend saying, "Don't be an insensitive boob.)
Over the years, it was suggested that Dad was already perturbed about something else. Whatever. (I worked in retail post-Christmas for six years. I experienced the neck-craned pain of returns. I know the fate of bummer gifts.)
So the act of exchanging gifts over Christmas contains an element of phobia for me and is perhaps why I love The Grinch Who Stole Christmas so much. After all the gifts were stolen, Christmas remained what it was meant to be all along... a matter of the heart.
May your Christmas be filled with peace and joy, and each gift exhange, bummer or not, seize to sour your heart!
Merry Christmas, Dad. We miss you!