My oh my, talk about Christmas cards on the fly!

Like sinking into a hot tub

Like walking barefoot on fertile thick grass.

Like the scent of cinnamon-spice cookies baking.

Like the exuberant yapping of a puppy.

These things and more are joy. And they are peace.

Last evening for the first time in weeks at my new apartment, I returned home around 7:30 rather than 10-ish. The reason: a gut feeling that the landlord had addressed the issue of excessive noise with the neighbors, that the cacophony was at last abated and harmonious co-living could begin.

I was right. The noise volume was nothing like it’d been the past month. The TV wasn’t blaring, neither the stereo. He didn’t march through the apartment like a Russia soldier trudging through snow. She didn’t shriek as much as usual. Things above have definitely quieted down.

And thus with civility in the place of intrusions and reasonable quietude in the place of furor, I could complete my task at hand, the true reason I’d come home and needed to be home: my Christmas cards!

I make my own cards. Been doing it for decades. Can’t remember the last time I even bought a box of cards.

My sister too makes her own, as did my dad when he was here. We’re the “freaks” in the family when that “family” is defined as my mother’s side.

They’re the conventional sorts. The sort who buys boxed cards. The sort who’d place those ghastly family photos where everyone’s well dressed and the two dogs are donning red stocking caps on the cards.

And then insert those equally ghastly family update newsletters. “Johnny Junior’s 8 now and growing just so big and he just made the basketball team and we’re thrilled. Little Denise, now 5, has a voice that soars and she just got a seat on the church choir and we’re just thrilled.”

Booooring. Banal. Bah Humbug!

Making Christmas cards is work. It’s a labor of love. I never know from year to year what the card’ll be. The theme, art medium, materials or photograph (which I take).

Sometimes, I don’t know ’til like a week before Christmas!

Like this year!

That’s cuttin’ it way close.

Usually my creative mind begins percolating, toying with ideas, about a month before Christmas. Sometimes I scan aisles at crafts stores for notions and I don’t mean needles, threads, tape measures and pin cushions, the stuff of sewing notions.

Not that I haven’t incorporated stitchery into my cards. I have!

Anywho, the Christmas spirit this year has been up and down, hit and miss, “in flux.” No doubt due to the extraordinary stresses of moving and the first month under the unceasing cacophony from the Clack & Clomp Couple. Enough to send even the calmest person to the funny farm. Or the pub.

In truth, I had a photo all picked out for the cards. Had even done the sizing and tweaking and all those things in preparation and saved a template.

Then at the 11th hour, I changed my mind.

I liked this other photo better.

Then comes the easy part — or hard part, depending on one’s perspective. Writing the letter.

Now, I assure you, any resemblance between my holiday writings and standard banality is a big fat jolly ho-ho-ho NO!

When I seated myself at the laptop yesterday, I had no idea what I was gonna write. I knew only this: I HAD to write then and there. No procrastination. No excuses. Reason? The ONE package — the ONE and ONLY gift I send each year — is to my son in another state. One. That’s it.

With his gift goes the card and holiday letter. And yesterday was Do Day. Get his package into the mail to-day in time for Xmas arrival. Just Do It.

So, with absolutely no plan, concept or forethought, I sat myself at the computer and began writing.

Sometimes writing under pressure works against ya. You get blocked. Your tongue is leathery thick, your pen is sucked bone dry of its ink. The writing is stilted and stupid. Even if it’s really not, it FEELS like it and so it’s all the same.

Then there are those times — rare though they may be — when the pressure works to your favor. The clock’s ticking. Christmas came WAY too fast. The clerk at the post office is waiting. So you sit down and the words just flow. Flow flow flow flow flow. The ink well’s full and the tongue’s keeping pace with an experienced marathon runner.

I got lucky yesterday. Because the words did flow. I was able to complete the letter and the card. Assemble everything into a single package wrapped with the brown paper of a grocery bag. Hasten to the post office at 4:30, a half hour before closing. Braced for an hour’s wait.

Boy was I disappointed. Pleasantly so. There was a line of like only eight people! Fortune smiling upon me for sure! I got his package in the mail. Overpaid on postage but there’s no avoiding it. Left and celebrated the successful completion of card-letter-mailing with a beer at the pub!

There’s just one flaw in this otherwise rosy scenario. Due to the time crunch, I didn’t review and edit the letter to my usual meticulousness and high standards. Upon later review for dispatch of same letter to other family & friends, I discovered a sentence here and there that wasn’t up to snuff.

Therein lies the danger of writing Christmas cards on the fly. The words don’t always land in their ideal location.

I got those all fixed for the others who’ll receive the letter. And a small number it is too so don’t go thinking I’ve got tons of friends pantin’ for my pieces. I don’t.

Still, it niggles my brain, less-than-perfect writing in a holiday letter. But as in everything, there’s a silver lining. The letter doesn’t extol Johnny Junior’s basketball skills or Denise’s divine singing talent.

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