Every year, it is interesting to observe the pattern of holiday card arrival. They almost always catch me off guard. How can it possibly be December again? I'm quite sure it's still supposed to be September.
Then the guilt to catch up and send out one's own cards sets in. Usually I don't even have cards by the time the card from my aunt Bobbie showed up. Her card was traditionally the harbinger of the Christmas season; the last couple of years, cards from a couple of others have rivalled her card's usual first-week-in-December arrival date (but I still think of hers as the first).
Over the next two months, we watch the rest trickle in. To date, the usual pattern is that ones from the older generation of the family show up first, followed by friends from high school, followed by college and grad school friends without kids, followed by all other friends and siblings with kids.
Somewhere in there, I send out ours, and have resigned myself to the fact that they are more often than not New Years cards. Happy Holidays is a generic sort of wish that doesn't have to be rigorously tied to the 25th of December, right?
There are some in my acquaintance who happily maintain that theirs are Chinese New Year cards. I respect this :)
This year, however, I succumbed to a "50% Off All Holiday Photo Cards" offer back before Thanksgiving, madly looked through our year as documented by photos while the offer was still good, and put in an order. They arrived, miraculously, before anyone sent us their Christmas cards. I felt smug and ahead of the game. This is the year we send out cards that actually arrive before Christmas! Of course, life is busy and I set them aside, to be buried under piles of stuff to deal with in the office.
For 2010, a second-cousin-in-law-umpty-times-removed card showed up first, followed by several of Chad's friends, followed by my aunt. Ok. If I have the cards, I should just get 'em out, right? I threatened to write a terse holiday letter in the form of a haiku, at which point Chad produced a lovely summary of our year's events. Woo hoo -- let's hear it for teamwork!
Skip tedious part about finding list, marvelling at the length, and then browbeating small child to sign all letters. The rest will be easy.
Not so easy. Something seemed funny about the pile of envelopes as I worked through all the addresses this afternoon. It was oddly small. Quite small. Twenty envelopes short of the number of cards small. Aargh!!!! My normal paranoia about others screwing things up did not extend to counting the Christmas card envelopes when they showed up (I did count the cards themselves, though...) My plans to get everything out on time risk being thwarted!
The upshot: If your card shows up in a bizarre envelope that doesn't seem right, it's because in my determination to actually get things out on time this year, I pillaged all the rogue leftover envelopes from Christmases past to round up a quorum for this year. To the point of shaving half a millimeter off of two cards to fit into the last two slightly-too-small envelopes to make it work. It's not my fault, really. We wish you all the best, and trust that you realize that it's the thought that counts. Plus, most of you realize by now that everything I do is slightly scruffy :)
Merry Christmas / other Winter Solstice Holiday of Choice to all! We hope to see you in the new year.