All in the Cards

March 14, 2011
As I’m frantically rushing to finish this post, I got to thinking about how parenthood forces you to accommodate an ever-growing “to do” list.  For instance, a few years back I noticed my stomach would start knotting sometime before Thanksgiving at the thought of the impending holiday season.But I love the holidays!  Love them -- but that's when the 3am insomnia starts. Time shrinking away as the pile of things to do grows.  No matter how hard I try to scale back the celebrations, focus on a few aspects of a holiday, sticking to the spirit of the season -- I'm still overwhelmed. 
So much anxiety springs from sending Christmas cards.  The candy corn hadn't been gobbled up yet and the dread would build as I thought about addressing all those sparkly little rectangles -- cards I had still had weeks and weeks yet to send.  By now, I've refined panic to a high art form. I swear last year we were celebrating the Fourth of July at the community pool when a flashback/flash forward sent me into a cold sweat.  I overheard some ladies talking about being almost finished with their Christmas shopping.  What? I admire organizational skills, truly I do.  But this was making my head spin.
It seemed kind of ridiculous to try to get ahead of even just this one little task --- the small snarling Christmas card beast --- so early in the game.  Ok, so I needed to take a deep breath and assess. I had bought cards on the cheap at the end of the season so technically I could start addressing them.  And lately, I've really preferred a snapshot card arranged with photos of the kids.  Should I hang a few lights, wrap them up in red sweaters and stage a stunt Christmas?  I pondered that for awhile but the ridiculousness of it all struck me. An image popped into my head: two overheated kids with deep tans, posing awkwardly near a dusty fake wreath, looking more like they were stuck in a bad theme restarutant. That finally stopped me in my tracks.  It reminded me of a Parent Tip Night at our old daycare center.  One of the teachers shared her helpful hint for the day: that she dressed her young kids for school the night before and put them to bed in said clothes --- so that in the morning she could just scoop them up and get started on the day with no fuss.  I didn't want the cards to turn into the equivalent of wearing my clothes to bed!
I knew I needed to think outside the box and settled on  sending greetings around a different holiday. Halloween still seemed to creep up on me too fast.  Same with Thanksgiving.  Summer time didn't feel like the right time. But then I read that famed chef Julia Child had always sent annual valentine's cards.  That seemed perfect.  For me, Valentine's Day had always been a family holiday.  My mom bought each of us a special card, candy and little toy or other treat.  We made heart-covered cards for each other.  That was it -- I'd send Valentine's cards.  The kids were thrilled and posed obligingly over Christmas -- we took leisurely photos.  What's the rush?  We could take our time picking out a card, scrubbing the mailing list and addressing the envelopes.  Once the holidays were done, we'd be golden!  It's going well so far -- St. Patrick's Day is this week.  And I'm almost ready to send out another pile of Valentine's -- you should get yours by Easter.
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