Thursday, December 10, 2009

This Christmas, try giving the gift of saliva

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial Page

Every year during my holiday season preparations, I go on a Christmas card writing marathon that lasts several hours. Usually, it takes two full evenings.

When it comes to Christmas cards, I turn into the prissiest, fussiest, most judgmental jerk on the planet. Of course, I'm a quasi-saint the rest of the year, don't you know. Just a regular sweetheart, I tell ya!

I do cards the old-fashioned way. I write a personalized message in each one and include a holiday letter, as well.

The entire process takes about a day less than, well, forever!

At the end, I'm like a salmon returning to the river in which it spawned. I'm emaciated, weak and near death. I show up at the post office drifting in and out of consciousness.

Thank goodness for self-adhesive stamps, because I used to get dehydrated licking the old-style ones.

People in line at the post office never seemed to appreciate it when I asked to borrow their saliva, either.

Where's your holiday spirit?

You see, having been born with the 'communication bug,' I have the constant urge to tell everyone what's going on.

When social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook came along, I was in complete heaven. What better way to communicate the minutiae of my life?

"Brian is doing laundry."

"Brian is folding laundry."

"Brian is putting away clean laundry."

"Brian is wondering why he has no friends left."

Before social media sites came along, one major way of communicating with people I rarely got to see was through the Christmas letter.

I know they're not looked upon kindly these days, but I do them anyway. And because of this blasted communication bug from which I've suffered since birth, I spend at least 12 hours putting it together and making sure it's (hopefully) perfect.

Then, I sit down and drag out the many boxes of cards I bought on sale the previous year and get to writing the messages, folding the letters, stuffing the envelopes, sticking on the return address labels as well as those for whom the letters are destined.

Then the stamps go on. It's a huge production since I send out more than 100 cards every year. Have you belched within 10 feet of me in the past year? You get a card!

Most people get a generic card, however I try to choose religious ones for those people I know who are avid churchgoers.

Then there are the French cards for those who would prefer them. Finally, there are the specialized cards for relatives, such as the mothers, fathers, siblings, etc.

I take card-giving seriously. It's a science. And yes, I need to admit right now that my cats give a card to my mother's dog. (If this were a movie, this is the part where I'd get a close-up shot and hoarsely whisper, "Help me!")

If you're going to get serious about sending out good old-fashioned cards, make sure you're organized. Having all your recipients' addresses in a database is essential, especially if you have a large number of people on your list.

I thank my lucky stars for a computer. Without it, I wouldn't be able to get through the ordeal.

Now, here's where I become a judgmental jerk. I expect the same from everyone.

Yeah, a full-colour professional-looking letter and a personalized card. Of course, I can forgive the lack of a letter since it's a lot of work, but at least take the time to write a few paltry words on the card rather than just signing your name.

Just seeing a name signed on a card isn't very personal. I want a note, preferably written in blood. Oh, and sending me a sheet of Christmas stationery with a generic "Merry Xmas" on it doesn't cut it, either. Try harder than that!

How about, "Brian, you were the light of my universe in 2009. Without your support, guidance and wisdom, I would have withered on the vine of life and fell to the ground to rot like an unpicked apple in a lonely, pitiful orchard.

"The moon, stars and all the angels in heaven smile down upon you. I love you more than I love my own children. I love you more than I love my dog. My face is encrusted with the dried saltiness of the tears of happiness I shed every night just thinking about your presence in my life."

Now, was that so hard?

Beats opening up a card obviously made in China ("Merry Cristmass!") and signed only with a name like Jim, Troy, Becky or Gertrude.

I hope you didn't strain yourselves, folks. Let me know when the hospital visiting hours are so that I can visit you in the cardiac care unit after the heart attack you gave yourselves from trying too hard.

Meanwhile, I've had to have a saliva gland transplant after licking all those envelopes. I also have to come up with a story for my boss after missing a week's worth of work, and have a stack of hate mail from the letter carriers' union blaming me for being solely responsible for about 95 per cent of all disability claims within the system.

Even worse are those who forget to send me a card until they've received mine. You know, the ones who either procrastinated or took you off their Christmas card list only to send an ugly pity card in the mail to you after receiving yours?

By "pity card", I mean one of those charity cards from people who paint with their eyelashes, their navels, or whatever else they can stick a paintbrush in; the ones you only send to people you don't like. Yeah, I know the drill. Been there, done that. You can't scam me.

And you'd better hope you don't get an ugly pity card from me this year, because you know what that will mean!

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