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I seem to have fallen mostly out of the habit of sending Christmas and other holiday cards these past few years, which leaves me all the more grateful that so many friends are keeping me on their card lists. I tape the cards on my kitchen cabinets -- a habit I started at Toad Hall -- and usually keep them up until Valentine's Day. Other Christmas decorations are packed away on 12th Night, that's a tradition that goes back to my childhood, but the cards...the cards stay up. I love how they reflect the friends and loved ones who sent them, and they're an interesting panorama of design sensibilities, too.

Today's mail brought not one, not two, not three, but four utterly perfect cards, each one a clear contender for Best Card of the Season. Three were personalized; the fourth was a commercial card selected especially for me from a friend and former boss who re-established contact this year. Collectively...wow. Just wow.

First opened: lollardfish and buttonlass's adorable photo card of buttonfish wearing a white shirt, red overalls, and a santa hat. He's riding his red rocket. So cute! When you have a babe celebrating his first Christmas, a photo card is darned near required, but this one utterly rules. I actually said "Best. Card. Evar!"

As I picked up the next card, I adjusted my expectations back to normal levels. I'd clearly just opened the best card of the lot, so it was important to enjoy the next card for its own delight and not compare it to the jolt of sheer love, joy, and and amusement I'd just experienced.

There was no return address on the front, but the pale imprint on the back brought a happy smile -- how nice of the minnehaha's to keep me on their list!

Then I opened it and held the Best Card Evar all over again! The photo of the Heart of the Beast sock monkeys from B&K's 10th wedding anniversary party this last summer. Seeing the sock monkeys nestled together in their cardboard box, one monkey wearing those adorable pipe cleaner glasses, brought a sudden rush of wonderful memories from that celebration as well as the sheer love, joy, and amusement B&K share. I'm so happy for them, and honored by the friendship we share. I darned near bought a cheesy little sock monkey ornament for them a couple days ago in memory of the fun, but the construction quality just wasn't up to measure with the event. As if any commercially-made sock monkey could be....

I turned to the third card with a sense of discovery -- the last one had blown me away against all likelihood compared to the first, what would this opening bring?

It's from my former boss, Mike Anderson, and his wife, Kathy. It's the one commercial card of the lot, but one design and production values far higher than anything the word commercial suggests. It's a Mistletoad card I hadn't seen before by artist Will Bullas. (I didn't find the Mistletoad on his website, but he specializes in animal humor -- you've probably seen his "Duck Tape" art.) On the inside of the card, the Mistletoad is doing acrobatics, swinging up in festive spirit. "Have a Merry Christmas filled with fun and special surprises." Oh, yes, and this card was one of the them. Yay!

Mike's running Victorian Wood these days, and he and Kathy have moved to a farm where they're raising organic beef. This past year they added a windmill, so they're now both wind and solar powered. Mike was the best boss I had during my decade in at National Computer Systems (now Pearson NCS). I'm delighted to be back in touch with him and hope to manage a side trip to Marathon, WI during some upcoming visit to the midwest.

You can all see the front of Card #4 -- it's from bohemiancoast and family, and it reflects Alison's remarkable computer, design, and art skills as well as the family's delightful sense of humor. The individual signatures also brought back happy memories of my own childhood and family traditions. I deeply enjoyed adding my own signature to Christmas cards the Fitzgerald Family sent each year. It affirmed my sense of belonging, and truly made the cards from all of us, not just something the adults did. The kids got to open cards addressed to the family, too. (Our parents opened the cards addressed just to them.)

So, yes, four remarkable cards, opened one after another after another after another. Big fun, much joy. Thanks, lollardfish, buttonlass, buttonfish, minnehahaB&K, Mike & Kathy Anderson, and bohemiancoast & family!

And thanks to everyone else who's kept me on their mailing list. I want to get back in the habit myself, and hope that I manage to return your greetings with a card next year and cards for many years after that, too.

Who knows, I may even manage to mail out a few yet *this year* -- they're on my coffee table, awaiting the next time I settle down for a few hours in the living room and my current plans are to do just that this evening. Of course, I don't know if I'll manage to address any cards at all while watching Helvetica. (Thanks, lsanderson!)

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
batwrangler
Dec. 24th, 2007 07:05 pm (UTC)
I heartily endorse using mail-merge to address the envelopes: three years ago when it was very import to us to acknowledge all the support Mom was getting (this was in the middle of her bone-marrow transplant), I hand-addresses about two hundred cards and it just about killed me.

Last year, I based my holiday card list on the database I'd built for my sister's shower and wedding invitations, and it was much, much better. This year, the database made getting my cards out a breeze. :)
maruad
Dec. 24th, 2007 08:18 pm (UTC)
Considering my wife is an IT professional and I do have a little, though ancient, IT background, you might expect we would have our Christmas card list set up in a database but the reality is since we do not usually send out cards, we do not have a proper list.

This year we made cards combining one of my painting with Walmart's photoshop (check my page to see the painting used) and we intend on mailing them out after Christmas. Hopefully we will succeed before St Valentine's day.

bohemiancoast
Dec. 24th, 2007 08:38 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you liked it! And this is the first year that the kids have signed all the cards (or to be precise, nearly all the cards). We had a little production line going in the living room, with Christmas carols on the stereo.
bohemiancoast
Dec. 24th, 2007 08:40 pm (UTC)
Also, the title of the picture, 'Silent Night', was Marianne's idea, and 'absolutely' to mail merge, though I get frustrated with Apple's address book. My friends are individual people -- but I should be able to link multiple records with a 'lives in the same household' flag so that it does a single mailing label to all of them.
lsanderson
Dec. 24th, 2007 09:59 pm (UTC)
You're welcome!
I hope I get extra credit for the purty stamp I hadta stick on a sponge or lick...
hazelchaz
Dec. 29th, 2007 08:12 am (UTC)
Cards
I'm looking for the person who sends their cards out the earliest, so I can get on their mailing list... it's when the first card shows up that we start thinking about getting our cards ready... Sort of a Card Season Wake-up Call.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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