Tag Archives: #Christmas

How Do I Write a Christmas Card?

Glitter spells death for fountain pens!

Writing good Christmas cards is easy once you accept the “glitter-death principle.” Glitter truly looks great on a lot of cards, but it also gets in your nib and destroys the perfection of your tipping material, suddenly rendering your favorite pen scratchy and irregular.

Break out the green ink and keep away from the glitter for a great Christmas card writing experience.

Tip #1 for writing good Christmas cards is finding great glitter-free cards. This is a surprisingly difficult challenge, especially when you must also account for those waxy and artistically bumpy card stocks, which make it notoriously tough to use a fountain pen.

Now that we have that out of the way, I love writing Christmas cards! What is the point of having a pen collection if you never use it? Plus, the season gives you an excuse to bust out the red and green ink in your collection, which you might not normally use.

Christmas cards are great because whether you’re a more religious or secular person, it gives you an opportunity to reach out to your family and friends who you might not normally be in contact with to say hi and let them know you are thinking about them and care. There’s no wrong way to tell people those things.

Tip #2: Make it personal.

There’s nothing wrong with getting a box of cards, signing them and stuffing them in the mail, but it is always a little nicer if you can add in a little message or update. It makes a huge difference. Just two or three sentences will do. “It’s been a crazy year. Janice got a raise, so we took the kids to Africa. Jesse got the mauled by a lion and Maria got ebola, but we are all fine now. I heard your little Bobby got scurvy. That sucks, but I hope everyone is well now. Merry Christmas! Love, ______”

You tell a little about your life; you ask after a little of their life. Perfect. But hopefully nobody in your family got a dread disease.

Tip #3: Christmas letters.

If a lot happened in your year, you might want to sit down to write a one-page letter about all that your family did so that you can copy it and put it in all of your cards. It might save you from having to explain ebola in 50 different cards. These are great and can be especially fun with a little humor thrown in. The trick is to still include a few handwritten personal lines to the card. A lot of times those letters give a good overview, but there might be particular events certain people will want a few more details about. The card is a good place to add these.

Tip #4: Acknowledge and accept other faiths.

A lot of religions have special events in December and January. If you celebrate Christmas but your friend celebrates Hanukkah, there’s nothing wrong with sending your friend a Hanukkah card. Conversely, if you celebrate one religion but get a card from another religion, don’t be offended. Often the sender might not know, or they mean no harm. They just want to send you a happy greeting without buying a bunch of different boxes of cards. Most people are trying to spread messages of love, family and friendship this time of year. Just roll with it…unless there is a genuinely mean message or ham-handed attempt at conversion…which is really inappropriate. Stick with love, family and friendship, and you can’t go wrong. Stick with that philosophy for all 365 days of the year, and you really can’t go wrong.

Happy Holidays!

The Year George Saved Christmas

George poses with the stunning debonaire of 007 with a rubberband gun on Christmas.

George poses with the stunning debonaire of 007 with a rubberband gun on Christmas.

It doesn’t matter who you are, if you have lived long enough, you will have had at least one year where everything can and does go wrong in every aspect of one’s life. If you are old enough to find this blog somewhat entertaining, then I venture you’ve lived through more than one catastrophic year.

For me, 2006 was one of those years. Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, they did. The details don’t really matter. It is important enough to know it was what I consider the worst year of my adulthood.

By the time Christmas rolled around, I was down about as low as I could be. I wasn’t in the mood for Christmas; I just wanted to get it over with, which is highly unlike me. Yet, frustration ran high and patience was short. There was no joy in Mudville.

Then my sister announced she was inviting her boyfriend George to our traditional–closed to the outside world–Cerf Family Christmas Celebration. No interlopers had been let in before, and given what a crappy year it had been, I certainly didn’t want to deal with an outsider ruining tradition.

Now, I had absolutely no reason not to trust and welcome George. He was about the nicest guy I had ever met. Without even really knowing me, he and my sister helped me move from South Dakota back to the Chicagoland area. I owed him at least the benefit of the doubt at Christmas, but I wasn’t in a very charitable mood that year.

Besides, it is written in “The Great & Ancient Codex of the Sacred Brotherhood of Brotherhood” in Chapter 7 “Little Sisters” Rule #1: “Thou shalt not befriend thy little sister’s boyfriends, as thou mightest be called upon to smite him with thy fists one day.”

So it is written. So it has been for millennia. So it shall remain.

For our lawyer friends keeping track, this rule 7:1, as it is more commonly referred to in “The Great & Ancient Codex of the Sacred Brotherhood of Brotherhood,” is indexed under rule 2:13 which states: “Thou may relentlessly torment thy siblings with impunity, so long as ye beateth the face of any bully who shall, ever-so-foolishly, lay a hand upon thy siblings.”

And so, it was with a sense of foreboding and dread that I (and other unnamed actors in this drama) waited for the fateful arrival of Vanessa and George. We agreed to be civil. We bought George presents so that he’d feel welcome and a part of the festivities, but we also secretly anticipated some form of monumental fail. All but Vanessa, of course.

Christmas morning arrived and we began to show up at my parents’ home in our finest holiday attire. Ness and George were the last to arrive, after the presents had been strewn under the tree, the bowls of pistachios and candies laid out, the stockings bulging with the bounty from Santa, Christmas music on the stereo, cats high on catnip, the house fully bedecked with the cheer of the day…no matter how unsunny I felt.

George’s eyes boggled at the splendor of it all. As it turned out, his family Christmases were not quite as festive, and this grown man was overcome by the wide-eyed wonderment of a child. He dove in to Cerf Christmas traditions with wild abandon most of us had seemingly outgrown years before. His joy at being included in our event was undeniable, and this Grinch, whose heart was feeling two sizes too small that year, began to feel his heart swell at the sight of George’s happiness.

George loved his presents and he, wanting to impress his girlfriend’s family…a prospect we all failed to consider…gave far greater bounty. Then it was on to the snacks and stockings. When that was done, Mom was putting the roast in the oven and George seemed to exclaim, “Wait! You mean there is more food?!”

He exuded pure, raw, unadulterated joy. It was gleefully infectious and spread over all of us, revitalizing a Christmas spirit in me that I had thought was long lost to the miseries of that year and cynicism of midlife. My life might have seemed bad that year, but this served as a great reminder how good I truly had it, in spite of the hardships. It was the greatest gift he could possibly give, and it is one of the best I have ever received.

Luckily for all of us, George has been present for every Christmas since. He and my sister were married, and they have given us an even greater Christmas gift since: my nearly 3-year-old nephew Max.

Christmas 2006 remains one of my absolute favorites, and I hope you find that type of wonderment and joy this Christmas, too!