I realize I’m about to upset some of my friends and loyal followers. Please do not take this personally. I love you, I really do. I just don’t love certain things that some of you do. If you’re guilty of the following act of insanity, please remember that’s it’s just a small part of who you are and I realize that. Perhaps you’ll see the light and grow out of it someday. For that I can only pray.
As for me, I simply ask that you accept me for the judgmental SOB that I am.
Well, Christmas is quickly approaching, and along with it the annual onslaught of Christmas cards. This dizzying barrage of goodwill can come in a variety of forms, from the old-fashioned “Noel” or “nativity scene” cards to the more neutral cards that say “Happy Holidays” or “Happy Holiday Season!” or something along those lines.
Some folks go with the family photo card, which is sort of nice. Those always bring responses such as:
“Oh, look! Little Bobby Boo has braces!”
Or … “How adorable. Mindy has let her hair grow out.”
Or … “Hey! Aunt Mable shaved her mustache!”
Or sometimes … “Wow, look at Carl. Has he ballooned up or what? Dude looks like he ate Santa Claus.”
But over the past several years another trend has begun to rear it’s ugly head, and that trend is what I like to call The Christmas Card Family Manifesto. These are those full page — at least — dissertations on anything and everything that’s going on in the sender’s family. I swear I received a couple last year that made me feel as if I was reading the Old Testament.
Every single family member is singled out, every bit of minutia of their life is described, all apparently in an attempt to prove that their lives, by God, are much, much better than yours.
And the tone? It’s so damn joyous that you just know their lives can’t be that perfect. It’s almost as if they’re over-compensating, trying way too hard to convince us, or maybe themselves, that they’re happy.
Here’s an example: Our oldest, Clyde, has completed his doctorate degree in Fermentation Sciences and plans to open his own brewery after traveling to Botswana for a year and volunteering in a leper colony. So, is your son still clerking down at the Sack ‘n’ Save?
Yeah, they don’t really write that last part, but it’s sort of insinuated, ya know?
I mean, holy moly, how pretentious can people be? Why in God’s name would they think we’d care if their little grandson Ezekiel was named one of 14 captains on the soccer team or their niece Sophie finished third in her elementary school’s yodeling competition?
Just for kicks, I think I’ll send out my own faux Christmas card novella. You know, just to screw around with people. It’ll go something like this: “Happy Holidays everyone! I hope you’ve had a fabulous year! Here at the Shoemaker household things have been super!
“In March I was finally busted for that meth lab I was operating out of my garage. It’s a shame because business was going so well! The kids around town love, love, love my product! Anywho, I’m out on bail now but my attorneys say the prospects of a short sentence are good. By the way, I’ll be needing character witnesses for the sentencing phase so keep February open! Thanks! xxxoooxxx.
“That little scamp Hank is as ornery as ever! In November he killed and ate the neighbor’s miniature schnauzer but escaped through a hole in their back fence and was on my lap watching ‘Animal Planet’ like nobody’s business! LOL! Oh, he hacked up some internal organs on my carpet but otherwise the whole incident went undetected! The Millers are still looking for their little Bingo!
“As for the rest of the fam, remember that series of chainsaw murders over in Highland County? Well, don’t ask! And here I thought cousin Nate was really getting into wood sculpting! Seriously though, mum’s the word!”
You know, I just re-read those last four paragraphs and I’ve come to realize I made need some sort of counseling. Have mercy.
Bottom line? I hate those long Christmas card manifestos.
On a related note, that sound you hear is several hundred people erasing my name off their Christmas mailing list.
I guess my work here is done.
Dave Shoemaker is a retired teacher, athletic director and basketball coach with most of his professional years spent at Paint Valley. He also served as the national basketball coach for the island country of Montserrat in the British West Indies. He lives in Southern Ohio with his best friends and companions, his dogs Sweet Lilly and Hank. He can be reached at https://shoeuntied.wordpress.com/.