Return to Sender

I got a Christmas card returned as Undeliverable by the U.S. Postal Service yesterday. Yesterday, as in the second week of March. As in I’m a third of the way through the bottle of perfume my husband bought me. As in the leftover turkey and ham are long gone from the freezer, having been casseroled to the nth degree. Where has this card been for three months?

This makes me wonder if we shouldn’t rethink this thing we call sending things through the mail.

When the people of the future excavate our landfills and realize that we spent valuable December hours addressing and stamping cards, many containing photographs that had to be scheduled, shot, rejected, reshot, bickered over, paid for, printed and decorated, some of them blood spattered from paper cuts, they will surely say, “What the eff? All that work and money, just to express the hope that these quasi-friends will have a happy holiday or that the season will be greeted? What a bunch of shits-for brains.”

And just wait until they get a load of the yellow strips saying UNABLE TO DELIVER.

“And they just kept on sending them,” Excavator Nicole will say. “Looky here. This one chick in San Francisco seems to have just kept sending cards out to the wrong address for five freaking years.”

I’ve got three words for you.

Jacquie. Lawson. E-Cards.

They’re wildflowery, butterfly-y and they have music attached to them. A beautiful cottage sits in the woods. A door opens and a hummingbird causes the sun to come out from behind a friendly cloud. These cards throw a stain on the tradition of taking a beautiful tree and slicing it up, running it through a printing press of toxic ink, and giving it to a civil servant in a faded blue uniform to take to your coworkers, one by one.  Like an animal.

After seeing the number of cards that were returned to us as undeliverable, I gently floated the idea of not sending out annual Christmas cards. But my husband wouldn’t hear of it.

“Maybe we could just send an e-card to your work people instead,” I murmur in his ear as he starts to fall asleep, gradually turning up the volume on the hypnotic wind chimes.

“No, no and no,” he says. “I hear from people all the time that they like getting our cards.”

“They’re just saying that. Only six of them actually got our card this year,” I said. “We got so many returned, our mailman has scoliosis now.”

My husband is not on board with almost all of our holiday traditions. He refuses to open the glitter for me during the annual ornament making session, he claims that the gingerbread house draws rats, and I swear he’s hidden the Bible so I can’t read the story of Santa Claus’s early childhood tucked inside the New Testament on Christmas Eve. He has nothing against Jesus or Santa, but he knows if we don’t read the story we can’t do the Christmas Eve gift exchange, which he hates like poison.

“In the ’60s, I never got to open a gift on Christmas Eve. I don’t know why kids today should get to do it,” he gripes, every year. We ignore him and give him nice presents anyway.

For whatever reason, Scroogey McGrincherson loves the tradition of me spending weeks getting the dang Christmas cards sent out.

“Is it because you know what a labor of love – emphasis on the labor – it is to send out these cards and it makes you feel good to receive them from people who think enough of you to go through that mind-bending, arduous process?” I ask him. “Or is it because my perfect Christmas card record is just another shining example of how awesome I am as a wife and queen of the family? Or is it because it keeps the glitter and graham crackers off the dining room table for a couple of weeks in December?”

“The second one,” he says.

I bet Jacquie Lawson’s husband has a much better attitude.

Diane Laney Fitzpatrick

Diane is a writer, blogger, humorist and author of the books "Great-Grandma Is on Twitter and Other Signs the Rapture Is Near" and "Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves." She lives in San Francisco.