Monday, December 13, 2010

My Holiday Epiphany

Have you seen the commercial for Hallmark's new service? Upload your family photos and design your custom card online. Hallmark will stamp, address and mail your cards for you.

Are you kidding me? The very idea pissed me off so much I nearly threw my eggnog at the television. I didn't because eggnog is one thing I still like about the holidays.

If it's the thought that counts, then it follows one must spend a lot of time getting ready for the holidays. Every aspect must be carefully over-thought and planned down to the last detail. It's's supposed to be overwhelming.

One should spend hours thinking about and shopping for the right purchase. Time is the greatest gift of all, right? Dodging traffic and the hunt for a parking place via the Internet just isn't fair.

Buying gift cards is not one of my favorite things. That I decide which gift cards to buy helps, even if it doesn't allow a lot of room for creativity. That you can buy about any gift card you could want from the grocery store makes it even worse.

If we're going to bake cookies then instead of ready-made dough I expect to see sugar, flour and eggs. I can have cake from a box any time. For Christmas I want a lovely homemade applesauce or jam cake with caramel icing and a slice of chocolate meringue pie. I did say it was Christmas, didn't I?

Same with decorations. We have a beautiful artificial tree. Putting it together and taking it down requires some effort. It's cheaper over the long run, easier on the environment and not nearly as messy as a live tree.

Still, it's just not the same. Trekking through rows of recently cut evergreens in search of the perfect specimen, trying to make it stand up straight in the stand and then finding the best side are part of the holidays, too. Candles and sprays can't replace the fragrance of a live tree, either.

For gifts it's OK to use the gift wrapping service available at nicer department stores, especially if you upgrade from the free option. Otherwise each gift should be beautifully wrapped and artfully embellished at home. See Martha Stewart's web site for suggestions.

I detest the annual form letter included with many holiday greeting cards. I know they're efficient. I feel the same way about mailing labels. You wouldn't use them on a wedding invitation. Why is it OK to use them with Christmas cards?

I reflected on my anger over a bowl of peppermint ice cream--another holiday tradition I very much enjoy. The truth hit me like a brain freeze. Anything intended to make it easier to get ready for Christmas pisses me off.

Getting ready for Christmas isn't supposed to be easy. If it doesn't hurt at least a little, you're not doing it right. Where I got that message I'll never know. Add it to the list of things that make me...

The Crotchety Old Man

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