There is so much to do on a regular day or during a regular month, it seems almost impossible to add-in Christmas to the mix during December. In short, I'm having trouble keeping up; I'm sinking quickly under the list of to-dos.
If you have not received your Christmas card from me this year, it's because I haven't sent them yet. Do not fear, you have not somehow horribly offended me and been crossed off my list (at least most of you who read this blog probably haven't) although I would check in with me if you don't get a card by New Year as you may have some apologizing to do! Said cards are on my dining room table and I'm doing a few at a time, here-and-there, where I can guarantee that Daisy will not reach up, grab the box, and start sucking on the edges of the cards with unrestrained glee. (Obviously, if you get a card with a soggy edge, you'll know I got desperate and let her have at it for a while.)
If it was JUST about the cards themselves, it would be an easy task and you would have had them the week after Thanksgiving. But, it's not. It's a multi-step process and without hours and hours of weekend time to spend doing whatever I please any more, the multi-step process is taking place in multi-stages over multi-days.
First, there's the addressing. I go back to my trusty Outlook address book and realize, as usual, that I forgot to update it with all the new addresses of family and friends from the past 12 months plus the addresses of new friends I'm adding to the list whose addresses I do not yet have. So, task #1 is to get in contact with said people and update/obtain addresses.
Then I look again at the list and realize, in horror, that I have forgotten some of the names of my family's kids. I feel absolutely horrible about this, by the way, but in my defense I am 6,000 miles away and they have been pro-creating at a much faster rate than yours truly. And I'm sorry, I just can't do the card without the personalized greeting; it's important to me to send you a card that I have personally written in and I like to demonstrate thought in *remembering* to include your children on the greeting. I remember being a kid in England and getting soooo excited when someone would send a card to my parents and address it to me also. I've never forgotten that and so I refuse to send out a card unless I have all names of everyone in the family on the Dear.... line. Anyway, task two is to somehow (without offending said family or friend and usually through a 3rd party who keeps better track of these things than I do) obtain names of their kids (and sometimes even spouses/partners.)
Task three is to insert the annual picture into the card. Again, I have some things I'm anal about at this time of year and I just won't send a flat card. I have nothing against you sending me a flat card, please understand but I like a card that stands up. The card stands for me and my family and I want it to, well, stand. So, this eliminates those print-and-go things from Target and Walmart that would probably save me oodles of time and effort and money. Not for me; I buy the folding card and insert a 4x6 picture. This is obviously an extra step and, again, never as easy as it sounds. Anyone who has ever tried to put a 4x6 picture in one of those cards knows that 50% of them are not glued right and so it's a fight to the death just to get the picture down in the pocket. Unfortunately, this year, we did not do so well with some of them and poor Hubby's head seems to be either adorned by a green bow or slightly lopped-off at the top. (Sort of like an enforced flat-top - yes back to 90s for Hubby...Ice-Ice-Baby!) Needless to say, if you receive a card like this, please do not make fun of him - he was a good husband, participated in the maddening stuffing process and does not deserve it.
Next comes the return address labels. This is where I really begin to miss England because you can send something in the mail without having to include a return address on it. Usually, through forethought and foreplanning, I have ordered or created said return address labels in advance of the task of Christmas Card sending. However, this year, the season has sort of crept up on me and not a label do I have. So now, task four, which I am in the middle of contemplating options on, is to create and apply address labels. Decision point here is whether to go to Staples and obtain some of those Avery labels and create the darn things myself OR whether to use some kind of online service to get them designed and printed for me. With the DIY approach, the problem is that those labels never print up right (something always goes wrong with the alignment) or the labels peel off during printing and stick to the inner drum of the printer, thus resulting in many hours of me cussing and trying to make whatever said problem is right. The issue with the farm-it-out approach is now time and money - I'm already late for getting these cards out, especially for the ones that go to the UK, and I would probably have to pay a pretty penny to get the labels overnighted to me.
Finally, there are the stamps. I have regular 1st class stamps but I refuse to use them - they have to be holiday stamps, so I have to wait to the end, do a card-count and go buy some (because I won't use any leftovers on bills after Christmas plus I do online bill pay mostly anyway and barely use more than 10 stamps a year). Either way, since I have cards going to different countries, I have to go to the post office to purchase International stamps, which your local Safeway, Raleys, or CVS does not stock. So then it's off to the USPS, at the busiest time of year, to stand in a 60 minute line of idiots who don't know how to pack and ship a box, obtain the stamps. I then usually sit in my car, apply the stamps, get out again and post them... with a HUGE sigh of relief.
At which point (at some moment in the future, who knows when?) I will finally be done and you will be able to receive your Christmas card.
All I can say is, I sure hope you appreciate it, dammit!