The nine days from Saturday after Thanksgiving through Sunday of the following week are probably the most hectic personal time of the year for me. Because that’s when I take care of all my Christmas activities.
I’m not talking about putting up a tree or lights…. I don’t do any of that. I used to put up a small artificial tree. Lights in the windows. And some goofy giant, blowup “ornaments” that hung from tree limbs in the front yard. But I’m too lazy for that now. All I can manage these days is a wreath on the back door and a giant candy cane on the front door.
So what Christmas activities am I doing during the nine days after Black Friday? First, and least time consuming, is selecting which of the gift goodies we’ve picked up throughout the year during our travels will go to whom. Sometimes, I decide that the best reicpient for a goodie is… ourselves! 😉
Then, Susie’ role is to gift wrap each goodie. If it will be mailed, and most of them are, then I finish the job by packing and addressing the box. But since we don’t exchange gifts with too many folks, this activity is usually completed within a day or two.
What takes most of the time, and most of the week, is the cards. We send about 50 cards out. I do have labels for 30 of them, but the rest are hand addressed. Then there’s the stamp and return address. Plus noting who got which card since I have multiple designs and don’t want the faux pas of sending anyone a duplicate card the next year from any leftovers. (I have the lists of who received which cards all the way back to 1999.)
Each year, we send at least 24 cards with a polar bear design, usually from National Geographic. This year, I have over 100 cards in four designs…all polar bears but not all from National Geographic. Which means I don’t have to buy any cards for next year. ( But of course I’ll probably buy more cards at the after Christmas sales and use them in 2010.)
What takes the most time is the “personalization.” I don’t believe in the photocopied “annual letter” where I summarize my life for the year. First, I don’t think I do much that most of my friends want to hear about. And, the ones who I’m in regular contact with already know what I’m up to so there’s no need for a rerun. I can just sign the card and mail it off.
It’s mostly the friends who I’m in contact with only intermittently that get the personalization. That’s about half of the 50. Even if I tell many of them the same thing, I take the time to hand write (print) it on each card. I think that when you haven’t spent much time with a friend during the year, it’s appropriate to take the time to write a personal note.
Since I’m somewhat O-C in certain areas, I complete the cards in a precise sequence. The ones that travel the furthest are completed first and then I work my way back to my home in Florida. The overseas cards went out the Monday after Thanksgiving. Followed by the west coast and northeast. Then the midwest and southeast. Then Florida, and finally those to local addresses.
Yesterday (Saturday), I mailed the packages going to Florida addresses and the last of the cards. (There a a few stragglers going out on Monday once some glitches get resolved, such as correct address issues.) When we arrived at the post office about 11:00, there was one person ahead of me. I was out within 10 minutes. That’s what I like about finishing early!
I’m looking forward to the cards coming in. Even the ones with the “annual letter.” For some reason, I don’t mind reading them; I just don’t enjoy writing them.
And, I’ve received my Christmas gift to Susie and me: a digital photo frame. Since I’m a bit of a computer geek, I quickly realized that most 6-7″ digital frames have a relatively low resolution of around 400 x 200. I prefer VGA quality resolution as a minimum standard and that is 640 x 480.
Googling that led to me a 7-inch frame from Royal at geeks.com for $43 with free shipping (after I bought two media cards to bring the total just over $50). So for just $4 more than a 6-inch frame that Buy.com was offering, I jumped up quite significantly in image display quality.
I’ll probably spend the week searching through our travel photos and transferring a few hundred of the best ones onto a 1 Gig card that I can plug into the frame. I’ll also scan some “hard copy’ photos from trips to Hawaii, Hong Kong, and many other destinations before I had a digital camera.
Christmas? Bring it on….! While the traffic and lines at the mall / post office are raising blood pressures, I’ll be relaxing at home sipping an espresso with some Kahlua!
As we say in Manila…. Maligayan Pasko mag kaibigan! (Merry Christmas my friends!)