I’m having a lot of guilt lately and over (of all things), holiday cards. Every November, sometime around, okay in fairness it really starts the minute Halloween ends, I have these overwhelming feelings of inadequacy and obligation and maybe like I consumed way too much Halloween candy?
I’m literally bingeing on it, like Reese’s Pieces number lost-count-at-12 while web surfing dozens upon dozens of sites, hundreds upon hundreds of styles and themes and promo codes that sometimes work but mostly just seem to add more zeros to the grand total.
And you know what’s really insane? Forking over the equivalent of a car payment for cards I honestly have lukewarm feelings about. But here I am, phone in one hand, soon-to-be-maxed-out-Visa in the other, wondering if it’s too late to write one of those clever Chrismukkah letters diatribing all of the sensational things my husband is doing with his spinach or proud parenting moments like, “Look who almost pooped on the potty but missed by a mile and then picked it up and handed it to me!” Then of course I always get to that pivotal moment in the plot when I actually have to, you know, write nice things about myself without sounding too showy, and show’s over, folks … intermission at Starbucks.
Fast forward to my latte in hand, sitting in my car and feeling mildly ridiculous for getting so worked up over something so seemingly superficial. Story of my life. I mean, does it really matter if the cards are perfect or if they’re glossy or matte? Honest to Shutterfly, I once ordered 200 cards one year with three blank boxes where the photos should have been and feel like I’m definitely destined to repeat this debacle.
Sometimes coffee fixes everything and sometimes it fixes exactly nothing because I still can’t seem to give it a rest ye merry gentlemen and focus on something other than the matching Reindeer sweaters I’m convinced I should’ve bought for them to wear in this photo I still have yet to take and we’re run, run Rudolph-ing out of time.
I’m obsessed with these cards. It’s pathetic but it’s all I can think about. Portrait or landscape? Postcard or trifold? Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year? Truly, I’d love more than anything to just auld lang syne myself out of the whole deal and maybe claim amnesia or insanity.
I take a sip of my latte. “It’s all going to be okay,” I say, clearly to myself because last I checked, um, no one was in the car with me.
I look over at the sequin-studded purse and box of Dunkin donuts on the passenger seat, smiling. Then it dawns on me: I’m sitting in some other woman’s vehicle.
This isn’t in the metaphorical sense either, by the way, like, “I’m feeling very ‘Esme’ today,” or ‘Marjory’ or ‘Milo’s wife’ (is there still time to audition for that role?), or like I’m having some out of body experience, but in the real sense — like I actually saw this minivan in the same color, thought it was mine, and got in and (maybe) took a donut.
What’s worse, I think the woman saw me.
Guilt, shame and there I go again making a complete fool of myself while those cards are still taking up stock in my cart but it’s the one time a year (besides the four million other times I post those shiny pretties on Facebook) to feel like my life isn’t completely falling to Reese’s Pieces and that for a brief moment someone will look at that card, admire those reindeer sweaters and not have the good sense to know that just 30 short seconds earlier pretty much everyone, including myself was as close to tears as my toddler was to toddling into Merwin Meadows while three adults (because hey, why not have my MIL there just to add to the chaos) tried desperately to distract Junior from thinking his sisters were kidnapping him or that my Samsung was somehow going to suck his soul out.
I don’t know how people do it. I don’t understand how they’re somehow able to get their kids into those matching polo shirts with every hair on their head plastered into place, all smiling, all at the same time, all looking at the camera. My God! And then on top of all of that to have the wherewithal to pick out a card, pay for it and remember where they put the address book because apparently, that disappeared into thin air along with any ambition I had to sign, seal and deliver a whole lotta ho ho ho to all the nice people whose contacts are currently MIA.
Next year I’m just going to post something on Facebook, like some paperless public service announcement, some jovial little jollification commemorating all of the convivial moments in one Merwin Meadows-free montage. Until then, maybe lock your vehicles. There’s a good chance I’m “coming soon” to a car near you.
Columnist Lesley Kirschner grew up quiet, in the woods, and devoid of siblings so her hobbies quickly became reading, writing, and talking to inanimate objects. She also spent a considerable amount of time doing voice-overs for her dolls and watching too much daytime television–channel 3, sometimes channel 8, if the weather was good and the antenna wasn’t acting up. She was in attendance at school, graduated from a very much not notable college not worth mentioning, and was transplanted to Wilton with her husband, Ambler Farm‘s Farmer Jonathan and their (baby makes) three children almost a decade ago. Although she never quite found her calling in life, other than perhaps the doll voice-overs, which in hindsight were eerily convincing, she’s happy to try her hand at writing and is thankful for the support and community she found on Facebook’s Buy Nothing Wilton. Lesley realizes while this is all very exciting, she’s not winning a Pulitzer so she’ll wrap it up and be quiet. She’s had a lot of practice.