Back in October I was at the post office and purchased my festive Christmas card stamps while I was there. I left feeling a touch smug. Here I was, way ahead of the game, Christmas card photos already captured and stamps in hand.
I may have even taken a brief moment to imagine my less organized compadres, struggling on Dec. 15 to get children scrubbed and dressed, only to have a giant rainstorm blow through, thus being forced to take poorly lit photos indoors, all the while anguishing over the huge rush fees they would pay to have their cards in hand and their distress at using common George Washington stamps on their cards.
Weren't those the days?! The days before my teenager announced she looked HIDEOUS in every single picture we had taken at the beach and clearly she would rather NOT EVEN SEND A CARD than send out the HORROR that was our current photo. (I got the last laugh. See above. Which is clearly worse than the one I would have sent. I love the internet.)
Generally I would have said something along the lines of "oh, suck it up," but alas, my husband was feeling a little sad the dogs weren't in our current photo, and somewhere deep inside I felt messing with tenuous teen psyches over things like tangled beach hair would prove to be bad for long-term karma.
So off we troop, jingle-belled and nervous canines in tow, to the lake with all my unwieldy camera equipment to take new and improved photos. We capture images moderately approved by said teen and roll home. I order cards and pay the stinking rush fee just to be sure we have plenty of time to affix address labels and those now-not-so-impressive stamps and have them arrive before Dec. 30. Whew.
A few days after dropping the massive stack of envelopes (I am from Tennessee. I have a LOT of cousins) into the U.S. Postal Service dropbox, my cards start arriving ... BACK IN MY OWN MAILBOX. With a delightful little sticky label on each envelope from the USPS stating I need an additional 20 cent stamp.
Now folks, I should tell you, these envelopes are decidedly not large. Nothing about this envelope would say "Trouble Ahead!" to you. It is maybe half an inch taller than a standard envelope, and about half as wide.
There was foot stamping. Teeth gnashing. Acerbic thoughts regarding the USPS were expressed. Calculations about how much them returning the cards, then having to fetch them again for delivery, then sort and ship them to the desired destination, would actually cost them in both time and money. It does not work out favorably for the postal service.
Then I spoke with a friend who said "Love your Christmas card!!" Turns out, some of the cards were, in fact, delivered. Another friend said the same disappointing stamp experience happened to her, and they came back, a few at a time, over DAYS. In my opinion, returning some of the cards and not the others is a passive aggressive move by the postal service. I mean, at least make a statement. Bring the whole bundle back with one giant label that says "Hey, Lady. No Can Do. Fix all these up with 20 cent stamps and we'll accomodate your request to send your friends and family wishes of good cheer for the holiday." But no .... some cards make the cut, and others don't. Leaving us to ponder: why does this feel a little like sorority rush? And also, who isn't going to receive our card until the New Year?
So off I go to the post office, yesterday, in the height of panicked-shopper shipping season, to purchase 20 cent stamps. All due respect to our first president, but they are in no way festive. Or even attractive. Also, being in small spaces with panicked people (who tend to grow aggressive as the holiday approaches rapidly) wielding massive boxes and exhausted toddlers tends to bring on unexplained cravings for items like fudge and potato chips and sometimes Xanax, so I try to avoid such spaces.
And now we wait. Affixing additional postage to the sad little rejected cards making their way back home, tired and weather-worn, travelers awaiting their final destination.
So if you usually get a holiday card from us but haven't received it yet, just remember I was ready in OCTOBER. And that teenagers and passive-aggressive government agencies are a terrible combination. And that sometimes small spaces feel larger after Xanax, but only you will feel larger after indulging in tins of fudge.
And if you hear someone shouting "BAH HUMBUG!" at the postman at random, it is most definitely not me.