Thursday, December 23, 2004

John Hancock Was More than Just a Signature

He was a true patriot. He was willed the largest fortune in New England. He later joined the colonial cause when he got all pissed off about the stamp act and had one of his ships seized by the English government.

There’s nothing like the threat of poverty to align the rich.

The point is that he did more than just sign his name all big and fancy.

Why am I bringing this all up? Well, as you know, it’s Christmas time. A wonderful time. A time to give and receive. A time to be flooded with Christmas cards. Tons of Christmas cards from friends you haven’t seen in forever, friends you just saw yesterday, family you haven’t seen in forever and family you just saw…oh, wait…like, last year or something.

Nothing warms the heart like getting a card in the mail. It makes you feel loved, appreciated and thought of. That’s why we send them, right? To make people feel loved, appreciated and thought of.

Maybe, I’m a cynic, but “Best Wishes, *signature*.” Doesn’t really say, I love you, appreciate you and think of you. “Merry Christmas, *signature, kid’s names, dog’s name, cat’s name*” says, “I was thinking of you. Thinking that I was obligated to send you a Christmas card this year. I appreciate you enough to spend $1 on the card and $.37 to send it off. Merry…whatever…”

Look, I’m not trying to sound like an unappreciative jerk here. But you know what I’m talking about, right? No one ever wants to mention it. It seems selfish. No one wants to say that the pretty card with the snowman on it wasn’t enough to make you feel special without some kind of personal message. I’m not disparaging the good writers at Hallmark or anything. They’re good at what they do. But, the last time I checked, I didn’t have any friends or family working at any of the major greeting card companies. The chances of getting a personal message pre-printed on the inside of the card is pretty slim. (Except for, “wishing you a special Christmas.” I know that one’s just for me! I want a special Christmas! How did they know?!)

I understand that people are strapped for time at the holidays. I also want to be perfectly clear about this; we did receive wonderful cards with personal messages on them. But some of them…not so personal. I don’t know, I like receiving cards, I really do. But there’s something a little sad about getting a generic Christmas card. Dentists send out generic Christmas cards. Not because they really hope that you have a joyously fantabulous special Christmas/Chanukah/Winter Solstice/Kwanzaa/Boxing Day… It’s because they want to give you the impression that they care so that you’ll keep giving them your money.

I know that my friends and family aren’t after my money. They know that I don’t have any. But getting a generic Christmas card is almost worse than getting no card at all. If you don’t get a card, you can play all sorts of games with yourself. “It must’ve been lost in the mail.” “So-and-so is very busy this year, what with the new car and all…” “Me and so-and-so have a bond that transcends useless holiday tradition!”

But when you get a generic Christmas card, it’s all too obvious that you’re just one shrug of the shoulders away from not getting one next year.

I have an idea for the Hallmark Company. Don’t print out the generic message inside the card. Just write it on an insert and let the card-giver transcribe the message as if they wrote it themselves.

You know, I think that’s actually a good idea.

But, until Hallmark steals my idea and puts those cards out on the market without paying me a freaking dime, here are some “personal” messages that you generic card givers can use to make your cards seem more…not-generic:

For your smart-alecky friend :

I wish you could be here for Christmas…no, wait…I don’t. Stay where you are. Santa knows about *insert stupid thing your friend did once here*. If he sees me with you, I may never get another Christmas present as long as I live!

For your close friends :

I hope you have a happy holiday season. I appreciate having you around. Mostly because I can save 37 cents by handing this card to you in person. Merry Christmas.

For your family :

Merry Christmas. I wish I could be there with you and *insert family members’ names here* this holiday season. Blame the airlines! Why do they have to charge so much at the holidays?! Don’t they know that I really want to be with my family this Christmas?! Not here at my home with my wonderful *girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse/dog/cat/pet snake/bottle of gin*, opening presents and taking it easy in a stress-free environment of my own design! Stupid airlines! Oh, the tragedy of it all! ...Yeah, blame the airlines.

There, just some suggestions for next year. Just trying to do my part. Thank you all for the Christmas cards! Even if they weren’t personal. I’m so desperate for love that I’ll still cherish them. I’ll cherish yours most of all, JC Penny’s.

You “choo-choo choose me?!”

Fun Fact: I’m all for holiday tradition. But will someone please explain something to me? Why do people give each other Christmas themed stuff on Christmas day? I can understand if they give it before Christmas. Vince and Julie gave us Simpsons ornaments. But they gave them to us a while ago. Plenty of time to enjoy them before Christmas.

But not on Christmas day. By the time they open their present, Christmas is basically over.

That’s a fact.

“Thanks for the wonderful Christmas-themed gift! I love it! Excuse me, I’m just going to go throw it in a box for a year…”

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