Blog: Holiday Card Etiquette

Burt Ross

Before I retire a stack of this year’s “Season’s Greetings” cards into the recycling bin of history, I thought I might share a few of my reflections on the subject of holiday card etiquette.

First and foremost, when you send a card, do not — make that please do not — try to hide your identity. Placing a return address on the envelope is not optional; it is mandatory. Also, if your penmanship is not legible, print your name. I received a card without a return address and signed with some scribble. The name could have been Donald or Ronald or Harold, or almost any other name. And by the way, even if I could read the name, it is possible I know more than one person with that same first name. Help an old man. Provide me with a clue or two like how much you enjoyed taking me out for Chinese food last Wednesday. I should not have to hire the FBI to find out who you are.

Although I like to hear what my friends have been up to, please do not send with your card a four page single spaced letter detailing everything you did during the past year. I don’t need to know that you spent the July 4th weekend with your Aunt Mildred. I have known you for 45 years, and this is the first time I learned you even had an Aunt Mildred. And why do I need to know that you went to your brother-in-law’s and had turkey for Thanksgiving? Of course you did. Over 300 million Americans ate turkey. Even people on death row had turkey. Had you had octopus for Thanksgiving, that would have been noteworthy.

I do love family photos sent with the cards, but only if they are remotely in focus. Your identical twins are so out of focus, they no longer look like twins, let alone identical twins. And what is the significance of your son drinking from the water fountain? Was he dehydrated after surviving months in the desert, or something like that?

I find these newfangled electronic cards quite fascinating. They are very practical. You can’t even be sure whether the people who sent them are still alive. I might program them to be sent to people long after I am gone. They could read something like, “If I were still alive, I would wish you a happy holiday.” What I don’t like, to put it mildly, is if you are directed to a link, and then you are forced to listen to 5 minutes of chipmunks singing some Christmas carol. Congress hasn’t done much lately, but they could provide mankind with a great service if they were to enact a law forbidding rodents of any kind from singing Christmas carols. I am not a fan of capital punishment, but a violation of this law ought to be a capital offense.

And finally, please don’t announce in your card that you have donated a goat in my name. If I want to donate a goat or other mammal, I will not hesitate to do so. If you really need to donate something in my name, donate a jar of kosher sour pickles and sour tomatoes and send them directly to me.