My husband and I were writing out Christmas/Hanukkah/Druid cards over the last couple of weeks when the questions began. Do you remember so-and-so's kids' names? Did so-and-so move? Wow, you know I haven't talked to so-and-so in the past few years, I wonder if they're:
(a) doing fine;
(b) getting divorced;
(c) adopting a baby;
(d) taping a reality show;
(e) living in a retirement home/convent/ashram
Well, you get the point. The holiday card can be a time to re-evaluate relationships. To ask, in a modified way, the question asked by the character Elaine on Seinfeld, "are you card worthy?"
Before there was Facebook, de-friending someone usually became official when you were updating your holiday card list. My mother kept her Christmas card list in a 5x7 address book and then moved it to an 11x14 legal pad when, at the age of 50, she decided that life was too short to try to make her outsize handwriting fit the silly little confines of the 5x7 address book. Every year, Mom would review the list. There were the evergreen names who left the list only in death- these included the grandmothers, her aunts and uncles, her brother and his wife, and all of her first cousins. The rest of the list, though, was up for grabs. Names would be crossed out, including those not-so-close friends she hadn't heard from for a while, and new names would enter the list. It was low-tech, but it was effective.
Even in the age of Facebook, we're still asking those relationship questions with every Christmas card we write (sorry about that, but I've been watching White Christmas and that song just gets inside of your head!!). For some people, it's the more the merrier when it comes to the holiday card list. Everyone gets a card because the holiday spirit should be one of inclusion and welcome. Some people use a system based on a complex calculation that takes into consideration the number of personal interactions throughout the calendar year, along with the dollar amount budgeted for the purchase of stamps and cards, and the possibility of the ultimate humiliation - the one-way, you know when you assume that you have to send someone a card but then they don't send you one, even after they've received your card. The sender feels like a needy reject and the recipient feels guilty and uncomfortable and it's all a complete holiday fail!!
So , let's make a New Year's resolution. Today, while you're finishing up those last-minute holiday cards, make a promise to yourself to check in at least once with all of the people on your holiday card list BEFORE Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa 2011. Find out how they're doing, what their life is like on a Tuesday in the middle of March. Oh, they'll be surprised. But they'll also smile at the thought that someone was thinking of them. And you may find that the one thing better than finding out if someone is card-worthy is finding that you are friend-worthy.
I'm just saying:)