Marybeth Bordeau Flynn

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It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Bragging

If there’s one thing that transcends state lines, it’s bragging. We all see it every day on Facebook—I am guilty of it myself—but at no other time is it more prevalent than during Christmas Card Season.

When I was a kid, the Christmas cards would come rolling in and my mom would tape them in a fanciful pattern all the way up the staircase. You had your snowy backdrops, your winter birds, lots of nativity scenes, and your requisite Santas, elves and snowmen.  I loved looking at all the pictures then peeking inside to see who they were from. My personal favorites were the ones with sparkles. Any kind of sparkle would do. 

Those days are gone. When the world went digital, everything changed, including what waits in my mailbox each day in December. And as I fan out the Christmas cards I’ve received this year on my dining room table, I begin sorting them without thinking about it.

In minutes I’ve come up with six distinct piles, which I decide to assign numbers on an “acceptability scale.”  See below:

1 = heartwarming; these cards look like chocolate chip cookies smell

2 = positive thoughts; may provoke smiling

3 = unnecessary; unfair; kind of sad

4 = somewhat creepy

5 = obnoxious

Read on to see how they break down.

1 = heartwarming; these cards look like chocolate chip cookies smell

This is a tie. I have to go with good old fashioned Christmas Cards and Photo Cards of Cute Babies and Toddlers. Extra points if your pic comes in an envelope. However, even if your baby is cute and you have not taken the time to write my name or sign yours, you bump to a 2 and add an eye roll. It’s not uncommon to get a straight-up picture these days. No note, no name, seriously lame.

2 = positive thoughts; may provoke smiling

Photo Cards of Attractive Children, Ages 5 to 11. Let’s face it, older kids don’t really have the same appeal as babies and toddlers, but as long as your kids are cute I don’t mind looking.  Thoughts on envelopes and personal touches, outlined above, apply.

3 = unnecessary; unfair; kind of sad

Photo Cards of Adolescents.  Come on, isn’t there an age restriction on these things?  Why any parent would choose to do a mass mailing of their kid during their most awkward phase is beyond me. All I can say is, thank Christ I grew up in the days of Polaroid and mimeograph, because the last thing anyone would want to see peeking out of their mailbox is this:

7thGrade.JPG

So moms, it’s okay to skip a year.  Do it for the children (and for me).

4 = somewhat creepy

Photo Cards of Pets. Just pets. There’s definitely something strange about this. If I sent Christmas cards this year, I totally would have fallen into this category. It’s no secret I have an unhealthy obsession with my dog. But I mean, I would NEVER send out something like this:

 

Cameron.jpg

Because I realize that no one ever thinks your dog is as cute as you do. Maybe I’ll just post it on Facebook.

5 = obnoxious

The Family Montage. Here’s where I start to get passionate. There are a number of things wrong with this one. I sometimes wonder if the complexity of the card is a direct correlation to what you would like me to believe your income is.  And wait, why would you print a shitty family picture?  No one is smiling and the kids look absolutely miserable … oh, you are in front of a castle! It must have been an amazing and cultural trip. Unfortunately, you are one step away from (and about 500 words short of) … the worst offense.

6 = the worst; cocktails and commiserating with other recipients required

The Brag Letter.  The ultimate holiday infraction.  Clearly people who write brag letters didn’t get the letter that brag letters suck. You have to be casting your net pretty wide to send a typed up litany of all the awesome things you did this year.  What? You traveled Europe?  Johnny finished his first semester with a 4.0? You did a successful stint in rehab? Awesome! Now let me pour some wine so I can get through the rest of your letter.

And cheers to that.

Merry Christmas to you all! And keep your cards and letters coming.

Marybeth Bordeau