So it’s that time of year again, guys. “What time of year, Megan?” The time of year where the holiday cards will begin to trickle into your mailboxes. Let me preface this by saying that I fully support the right to send an annual holiday card. What I don’t support, however, is that small (and/or large) percentage of people who ABUSE this right. Everyone knows who I’m talking about here; they’re the people who use the holiday card scenario as an opportunity to write short novels about why their lives have been so fantastic for the last twelve months, despite the fact that modern technology exists and we could theoretically just ask and/or gauge for ourselves their level of success or failure for 2012. “WHY DO THEY DO THAT?!” I find myself asking over and over. I’m sure there are a lot of factors involved, but I suspect the main reasons they do it are to 1) make you feel inferior, and/or 2) make themselves feel better about living in places like Kansas. (If you’re unsure of who I’m referring to, you are probably the holiday card assailant. You can double-check by asking yourself how many times you write the word “blessed” in the body of the card; the minimum is usually at least three.)
Now, ordinarily the holiday card from hell is a non-issue for me; I’ve been giving friends, relatives and bill collectors the address of the Dunkin Donuts down the block for as long as I’ve lived in my current apartment. HOWEVER, being at home in Virginia last week reminded me that some people still receive actual mail, and I decided that this year I would create a little guide for surviving a barrage of unsolicited yearly updates.
First, if you are WRITING these cards, I want you to take a long, hard look at how much of an asshole you’re going to seem before you shove those suckers in the letterbox. Things people generally don’t want to hear about: your kids (unless they did something hilarious and/or destructive), your new job, the amazing vacation you just took, your marriage, etc. Things people generally MIGHT want to hear about: your pets doing cute things, the time you almost burned down the kitchen trying to cook macaroni, embarrassing things you did while intoxicated, the secret of life, etc. Keep the bragging to a minimum. If you think you might have trouble doing that, go stand outside without a jacket and pretend that this is what your bedroom would feel like ALL THE TIME. Then, reevaluate whether or not the content of your letter would be well-received by people. Also, probably don’t mass-mail your whole address book; instead, keep it to close friends, family, and the occasional sworn enemy.
If you typically RECEIVE these kinds of cards in the mail, there are a few things you can do to preserve your sanity. While I’d advise you to immediately chuck the letters in the trash and/or burn them to save money on heating, we all know there’s no way you’re not going to open them and read every terrible word. SO, naturally the next best thing would be to read them in a variety of dramatic styles, including but not limited to Oprah’s “PLEASE WELCOME SPECIAL GUEST” voice. Doing this should dramatically reduce many of the unpleasant side-effects of holiday cards, which can range from migraine headaches to violent bouts of nausea.
Next, if you’re really feeling energetic, you can cut out the family photo (which will inevitably be included, and which will feature all members of the family wearing the same outfit, possibly khakis, and sitting in front of a sand dune or waterfall) and draw obnoxious mustaches, blacked out teeth, eye patches, etc. until the cows come home and/or your Sharpie runs out. Place the photo in an envelope and mail it back to the senders (making sure to distort your handwriting, and/or putting a fake return address) with no explanation as to why you’ve chosen to do this; the message should already be clear, and they will think long and hard about what they send out next year.
But if you’re REALLY feeling vindictive (which you totally will be, trust me), then we’ve got to take things to the next level. And that next level is: we have to write our own holiday cards. Don’t worry, we won’t tell them about how we subsist on a diet of lentils and PBR, nor will we admit to being single, jobless and generally unsuccessful. No, instead, we will invent dream scenarios for ourselves in which we catalog endless triumphs and impossible feats, aka WE WILL ONE-UP THE BEJEEZUS OUT OF THEM.
You can be really creative with your cards, but I’d suggest name-dropping at least three major celebrities you’re “friends” with, describing your dream job (and how well it pays) at length, and how fantastic your living conditions are. (See also: no cats, just expensive stuff.) If you’re still struggling with what to write, I give you full permission to use this template I created for myself last year after reading a particularly vomit-inducing holiday card aloud. You’ll notice my extensive use of the word “blessed,” which we already discussed briefly above, but which should help you really drive the message home, aka “Look, asshole, I don’t need you to lord your “stability” over my borderline impoverished head, so KINDLY DELETE ME FROM YOUR MAILING LIST.” (It’s really passive-aggressive, and it’s awesome.) So here we go:
“Can you believe another blessed year has gone by? How fortunate I am to have been so blessed; I can only hope you, too, have been as blessed as I these last twelve months. And because I bet you are wondering what I have been up to all year, I will tell you right now!
I’ve had my fair share of adventures since last holiday season (perhaps most notably a hang-gliding excursion off the coast of Narnia), but despite all the jet-setting, I’ve settled in nicely to the New York City lifestyle.
I live in the very first apartment in Brooklyn (and possibly the world) to be constructed entirely from cotton candy (a material that is famously bedbug resistant, and which provides excellent lumbar support), and on Tuesdays I play badminton with Woody Allen on the ceiling of the Guggenheim.
My main mode of transportation around the city is the Garfield balloon from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but sometimes Anna Wintour and I split a town car when ballooning conditions are too windy.
With regard to my dietary staples, I have a magical banana split dispenser in my cotton candy apartment, so I mostly eat those all day every day. (Coincidentally, I also have a rare condition where I can’t get fat.)
In terms of intellectual growth, as of yesterday I became fluent in seventy languages, the most recent addition being Xhosa. I’ve also discovered the formula for gold, and I’m currently in the process of single-handedly resolving the euro crisis.
I was recently elected mayor of New York City, but I politely declined the offer; instead, I sing opera at the Met and get manicures three times daily. I could keep going on and on, but I’m running late for a private tour of outer space that was arranged for me by Justin Bieber.
Again, hope your year has been most blessed. Blessed be. Ta!”
Even if you’re not feeling particularly offended by holiday letters, I still encourage everyone to write these kinds of cards as a form of nonviolent protest. NO MORE YULETIDE BRAGGARTS, DOWN WITH YULETIDE BRAGGARTS! (Oh and also, for the record, I only wish that your sneezes are blessed this year, guys.)
So you see? You’re not entirely powerless, and you don’t have to sit back and take this holiday injustice anymore. If you’ve got your own passive-aggressive schemes, please tell me all about them in the comments and/or on Twitter @BYTNYC. In the meantime, GOOD LUCK, and here’s hoping next year results in significantly fewer life updates in envelope-form.