'Matter of Laugh or Death,' the award-winning humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
CHRISTMAS CARD STRESS
The holiday season makes people do some weird things. The way folks dress, the way they decorate their homes, and especially some of the music they feel compelled to play would cause a visitor from another planet to conclude that terrorists dumped dangerous mind-altering chemicals into the water supply—dangerous chemicals such as eggnog or my Aunt Arlene’s radioactive fruitcake. How else can you explain the fact people laugh when they hear “Grandma got run over by a reindeer” rather than having the sane and rational reaction: blasting at least five rounds from a 12-gauge shotgun into the electronic device blaring such an annoying song?
Another weird holiday activity is the way people run around frantically spending money they don’t particularly have to buy gifts for people they don’t particularly like. This wouldn’t be so bad if the recipients actually enjoyed the gifts, but we all know by mid-January most Christmas presents wind up stuffed in a far corner of the attic for all eternity—the same length of time it takes to pay off the massive credit card balance.
But by far the weirdest holiday season tradition is sending Christmas cards. As a male of the species, my knowledge of Christmas card sending is, of course, second-hand, as the next man to send a Christmas card will be the first. The sending of Christmas cards has evolved into a female-only activity, probably because men are genetically incapable of perceiving any possible reason why it should be done—just like vacuuming and changing diapers.
The whole Christmas card thing might be the most stressful aspect of a season laden with stress and anxiety. This is because Christmas card sending long ago ceased being a warm and fuzzy holiday gesture and now has become the ultimate measure of WHERE YOU RATE.
On the receiving end, you quickly find out what other people think of you. Did they send a nice card (“nice” meaning expensive)? Was there a hand-written note or was it pre-printed with an insincere “Holiday greetings from the Farkus family”? Were there any photographs included? Or worst of all, did you not receive a card from them this year?
On the sending end, there are countless opportunities to offend your loved ones, relatives and friends. Every December the same scene occurs in millions of homes. The woman of the house frantically grabs her coat and car keys and races for the front door. The man of the house says, “Where are you going, dear? I thought you finished your Christmas shopping.” She replies, “I have to buy more Christmas cards! Did you see what came in the #*%@&#$ mail today?!!”
I’m sure Christmas cards originally started out as a nice and friendly activity. Back in the “olden days,” when traveling around the country was much more difficult than today, sending a card in the mail was the most convenient way to communicate. Wait a minute, what am I saying? Traveling around the country is not exactly easy today. Have you driven on I-95 lately? Tried to catch a connecting flight in O’Hare recently?
OK, visiting people in person to offer holiday greetings is still inconvenient, but today we have many more options besides sending cards in the mail. Today we have the second greatest invention since the TV remote control: group email. With the click of a button you can instantly send out an email message to dozens of people.
And today we have the best invention ever, the greatest sentence in the history of the English language: “Did you get my email?”
Nowadays people understand that email is a wonderful and efficient way to communicate, but they have no clue how it works or whether they accidentally deleted an important message.
To avoid all that old Christmas stress, simply say to everyone you talk to, “Did you get my Christmas email card?” When they reply, “Um, I’m not sure…” you can say, “Oh, too bad, it was great. When you clicked on it, it played, ‘Grandma got run over by a reindeer.’”
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