The 2011 holiday season has been over for approximately a month now, and even the slowest among us has probably put away the last celebratory vestiges. Christmas lights and tree decorations have been replaced in their cotton-lined cartons, safely stowed away for another year. Dried out evergreens have been carted away by the garbage trucks and the fallen pine needles swept into the trash bins. Wrapping paper and ribbon that wasn’t decimated by greedy hands has been put into drawers to be recycled for future gift-giving. The last of the sour egg nog has long since been poured down the drain, and the dreaded fruit cake pulverized in the waste disposal. Mothers and daughters take to the malls in droves, January sale-shopping being the best antidote for post-yule depression.
I’m Jewish. How do I know all this? From movies and television, of course. But while I don’t actually share these specific end-of-holiday rituals with my Christian friends, except for the one about going to the mall, the celebration of Chanukah (or Hanukkah if you’ve never learned how to gargle) leaves its own detritus. For example, there is the issue of ridding your kitchen of the lingering aroma of fried potato latkes. This can take about two weeks, and a gross of air freshener. (In the end, I’m never sure what’s actually more desirable – eau d’ Used Canola Oil or Southern Magnolia Bouquet?) Then there is the labor of picking the hardened wax from the menorah, the candle holder which burns a total of forty-four candles over the eight nights of the holiday. I can recall a time when picking at candle wax was a sensual experience, but that was from a chianti bottle over a romantic dinner in an intimate Italian bistro. And I was in my twenties. This is as far from sensual as root canal. Would manufacturing dripless Chanukah candles be a blasphemy against the Maccabis? I guess tradition is tradition, so I spend an entire morning standing over the sink armed with as many small, sharp objects that I can find, and jab at the little candle holders until they are empty and ready to embrace next year’s lights.
So “Frosty the Snowman” has melted away in the eighty-degree Florida heat and can no longer be heard every time I walk into CVS, and the store where I buy my dog food has stopped playing “O Holy Night.” On the surface, it appears that time has indeed moved on. But one lingering holiday-related issue remains, as least for me — what to do with the greeting cards that contain the beautiful smiling faces of my friends and their families?
These are not like the Hallmark variety or the greeting cards from your dry cleaner or newspaper delivery man. Those you might save for a few days and then guiltlessly abandon them to the recycle bin. But the family photo cards? I look through the small stack still remaining on my kitchen counter.
Why, it must have cost the Clarks a small fortune to assemble all twenty-eight children, grandchildren and dogs in the Australian outback. Not to mention the cost of the photographer. And look at them, how lovely and happy they are, healthy white teeth displayed for the camera. What do I….? How can I…..? But on the other hand, do I really want a family portrait of the Clarks in my permanent collection?
And here are the smiling Bensons. Not quite as many as the Clarks, but lovely all the same. Oh – look, Tracy’s holding the new baby. How sweet! Can I even consider recycling that baby?
Underneath the Bensons are the Berkowitzes. Berkowitz? Why did they do a Christmas card? There are enough people in this group to qualify as a tribe. And Papa Berkowitz did not fail to include his annual family-update letter, with each person discussed cross-referenced with the photo. Now I understand the little numbers on their chests. Boy, he really put a lot of effort into this one. So how can I…..?
And then there’s Betty. She has no children, but look at her adorable dogs. I do love dogs. I would never trash a dog. But yet……
Here’s the next one. They look familiar. Oh, they’re my grandchildren. Not the best picture, and I have so many others.
So here I stand by the garbage pail, with the photo cards in hand, immobilized by agonizing indecision. Dear friends, you have to help me solve this annual dilemma once and for all. It would be perfect if the cards could self-destruct forty-eight hours after New Year’s Day. But until such time as science catches up with need, next year, when you send the new family portraits, may I suggest that you include an expiration date?
Been there, Susan. Pat W of the W. Circle if you don’t know who the heck this is.
So true, so true! I also wonder where some of my friends get the energy and motivation to write an annual report of their activities over the past year, along with their photos. Is this the same energy that people use to report that they ate their lunch on their facebook walls? Like I care?
I care. What did u eat for lunch today!?
You have my permission to recycle the card the kids sent to you with their precious little faces on it and handwritten notes of love. I will email you the card next year so you don’t go through this dilemma again. 🙂
How can anyone let eggnog go sour?
OMG, talk about needing the computer geek, I just lost my reply….So, I’ll start again. First I have to tell you that I was asked for my URL today by our Corporate Office. What the heck is that? I replied. They sent me an email address. Someone, somewhere, responded. I printed, scanned and emailed that right back. They don’t need to know that I commonly call my computer “The Confuser” or that I am a little past that time when a keyboard and mouse were what got passed out at the maternity ward. To the newborns of course…My grandchildren amaze me! Actually, the time I spent on your blog tonight was a treat, a giggle and Wonderful. And you, my beautiful friend, are the poster child for “Aging Graysfully”! You could still wear pasties and turn heads. And my Christmas pictures? Recycled! I may have kept the one in green that you pictured. Love to take them out 10 years later, first time meeting that “special someone” and share those treasures. I have bare bottom blanky pictures of all my girls! Thanks for the giggle!
Love it! I too have a pile of smiling faces, large and small including happy doggies with their adoring people..after reading your post I was liberated and felt fine about filing them in the ’round file’!
Super Bowl Sunday
Susan, Read and loved Trashing Your Friends(others wonderful, too). TYF MUST go in some major magazine next season. Keep the pen moving. Fondly, Karen Gorman
I like and I do believe that Trashing problem is universal, whether you’re Christian or Jewish or anything else. I enjoyed it alot…it made me giggle and think about the piles of cards I have sitting around, still. Hummmm…. Love your photo by the way – how beautiful you are!! Hugs!! Theresa
Okay after much contemplating and pacing back and forth…I have a solution to everyones trashing problem! You take all the lovely pictures and decorate your garage walls. It will make for a very lovely wall paper, you won’t have the guilty feeling of trashing your friends, and when they start to wear and tear, then you redecorate with the new ones! Voila!
I think there’s definitely a market for self destructing holiday cards. Let’s take out a patent and get cracking!