Niagara Gazette

December 8, 2012

LETTERS FROM THE ISLAND: ’Tis the season to be a card

By Doug and Polly Smith
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Dear Mainland Mailers — We confess, we watch Bill O’Reilly, usually. We wince a lot, like when he said Irving Berlin wrote “Silent Night,” and at least once a night Polly shouts, “Bill, shut up and let her talk.” He doesn’t listen to Polly, either.

But as he wrapped up one night last week, we called “Hey, Bill, we do, we have for 50 years.” He had suggested, as an inexpensive Christmas gift (or holiday, if you prefer, which he doesn’t), sending a nice personal note to a friend.

We call them Christmas cards. Long may they reign. (Actually, about a half-dozen go to friends of other faiths; for them, we downplay the spirituality, but most respond and nobody ever complains).

We start no later than Dec. 1; this year, shortly after Thanksgiving, although we didn’t actually mail any until Nov. 30. And we’re sending fewer and fewer — cross off Brother Augustine, Nevart Apikian (a critic from Syracuse), old classmate Carol Achy. “All the ‘A’s’ are gone,” Polly said sadly.

There’s usually some family tension. Doug’s more anxious to start the process, sometimes dashing off one or two between sections of the paper. “Hey, Superman, how many’d you do today?” Polly asked while fixing breakfast. Soon, though, she’s passed him by. While they’re chiseled alphabetically into a Stone Age journal, we do them randomly, sort of hop-scotching through as we think of good times past. This year Doug started with the Yearke’s.

Doug’s haste often leads to waste. This year he had five cards out before Polly reminded him we had a picture to send, taken in August at his 60th high school reunion. Great. Blow another 45-cent stamp for the sake of narcissism? Doug bit his lip and (don’t let this get around) e-mailed the photo with an explanation, sort of a cyber P.S.

Everyone replied, but differently:

Ohio Gal said she’d forgive us this one time but would never, ever, e-mail Christmas cards.

Arizona Gal said she stopped mailing actual cards years ago, so that she could send more.

Forgive us old foofs, but we’re with our Buckeye Buddy. And don’t tell us you’re going to skip sending cards and send the money to charity. We’ll do our own good works, thank you.

Every card has a note, 20 to 50 words (we guess, we don’t really count) sharing a memory and something we did during the course of the year that reminded us of the recipient. In fact, Doug’s catch-up email after the premature dispatch brought something to our attention:

They were all from different fields and different phases of our lives. They were all strangers to each other, linked only through us.

Have no idea what that means, but it was pretty rewarding.

So come visit. Bring stamps and a fork, it’s Polly’s birthday. Keep in touch.

Polly and Douge-mail (it's OK, really)