Ye Olde Christmas Card Formula

DPL Christmas Cards
It's that time of year when you dig out your personal address book and write out Christmas cards (a/k/a Holiday cards) to all those people with whom you haven't corresponded since ... since ... well, since this time last year when you were writing out Christmas cards.

The card writing process is multi-pronged, and requires a strategy lest you end up wallowing in Christmas card limbo without a plan and while coming up well short on stamps.

First you have to make a list, and check it twice to make sure no one important is left off. The list itself is a moving target, constantly in a state of flux from year to year as some people fall off while others are added. Of course, some people fall off because they've ... well ... gone off to their "Great Reward," where every day is Christmas I imagine (psst ... by this, I mean they've passed on ... to the afterlife ... a/k/a heaven). Others fall off the list because the friendship has been allowed to drift for a number of years, drifting, drifting, drifting well beyond the friendship horizon to a point where you don't quite remember what the person even looks like anymore.

Meanwhile others in your life jump up a notch or two, making the list, or the "Top 40"  as we like to call it. (We like to keep the Christmas card number around forty-ish. Forty close family members/friends seems about the right mix. I think there's a formula to determine this: y=mx + b if I remember correctly, with m representing total mass, x representing the speed of light, and b the amount of eggnog consumed in a 24-hour period.)

snow_at_louveciennesOnce the list is pretty much set, the number of cards and stamps needed can be determined (with extras allowed for last-minute cards received from people not on your original list). This year we went with two sets of cards, and two sets of stamps, depending on the recipient. Cards were Early Winter by Currier & Ives depicting skaters on a 19th century pond, and for the more progressive crowd La Neige a Louveciennes by 19th century French impressionist painter Alfred Sisley (on right).  Stamps were Madonna & Child, and Snowflake, both by the 21st century United States Postal Service.

Then we had to consider return address labels, which came in three designs from the Disabled American Vets (wreath, snowman, and two red birds resting atop holly bush while looking rather nonchalant yet in a somewhat festive manner). All this provided us with 12 possible combinations of cards and stamps and return address labels, depending on the character makeup and religious leaning of the particular recipient. As you can see, it can quickly become a science.

So, with slide rule in one hand, and pen in the other, the Christmas cards are figured out, messages are written, stamps and return address labels are applied, envelopes are sealed, and order is once again returned to the cosmos. That is, until a card is received from someone not on the list. Then it's back to the drawing board: y = mx + b, Currier & Ives? Madonna & Child? Wreath return address label? Or perhaps those two birds in the holly bush looking rather nonchalant? And a partridge in a pear tree!!

Jack Sheedy

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