You don't have to mail everyone a holiday card

I posted something last night that resulted in a complete firestorm. I removed the post and was going to let it rest, but I can't. My point was completely misconstrued. Whether I have an audience of one or 1000, my opinion on a subject can certainly be challenged, but bullying me and twisting what I said just pushes me to a higher soapbox.

So what was everyone's panties in a bunch all about? I said that people should edit their holiday card list. It's the stuff of breaking news, right? Right. I said that we get holiday cards addressed to us with our names misspelled, (which was the part that everyone harped on, but not the point here) and often with tacked on extra letters. Like if your birth name was Andy and everyone addressed your cards as Andrew, that would get annoying right? Wouldn't it make you wonder if the people sending you cards really knew you at all or if you were on some bad marketing list? I was told to "don't sweat it", and "be thankful they took the time and expense to mail you a card at all". No, that's not how the holidays work. Or perhaps, it's not how they should work.

I live in a new city, so the people we've met, we've known for less than 6 months. Some of them have mailed us holiday cards. These are people that we interact with daily or weekly. It makes sense to get a card from them. They are in our lives. They are friends and neighbors and colleagues. What doesn't make sense is mass mailing and receiving cards to/from everyone we've ever met. Just because we attended second grade together and you happen to have my address, but the only time I hear from you is at Christmas, doesn't mean I'm pining away at the mailbox waiting for your annual card. And if you're confirming my address from five years ago is correct (it's not, I've moved twice since), I'm clearly not on your radar and it's OK. Really, it is. I will go on.

Back to my point of editing your holiday card list. We're all busy. Trust me, I know busy. So why do we feel the need to mail out 100, 200, 300 cards? I used to do it too and then I thought, "wait, what am I doing?" There's no more surprise of, "look how big Harry has gotten" when photo cards are mailed, because everyone posts photos of their kids on Facebook twice a day. You feel like you have to mail every human a card or they will believe you dropped off the Earth. No you don't have to. Wouldn't it be more personal to mail a card with a handwritten note to a handful of close friends? I've dropped handwritten cards in the mail for what others may think are the silliest (or craziest) reasons, but I always get a reply, "Hey I got your card. Thanks." When did someone say that about your holiday card? They don't because they're too busy printing labels and putting their 200 cards in the mail and running around being all busy because we're made to feel if we aren't busy during the holidays, then something must be wrong because he's busy and she's busy, so what's your deal, it's busy season! Calm down people. You might not believe in Santa, but you can believe that a personal note will cause a person to pause.

"Well I like to get cards from everyone no matter how they spell my name." Good for you, but that's not my thing and you're still not understanding the point.  Sending cards is not supposed to be a contest and shouldn't be based on how many a person receives in return. Cards from the heart are welcomed - particularly if they've been made personal and not sent as a means of creating an obligation. We can do better when it comes to the holidays. We can slow down. Think about who is important to us. Edit your card list. Make it more personal. I promise you'll feel more of the holiday spirit.

Know Your Cuts of Meat (or in this case, state capitals)

Yeah, I'm one of those bloggers. I write, something shiny comes along, and my blog sits stale for so long I have to figure out all the settings again. Here I am a year later, with more totally unbelievable stories.

Today's unbelievable story is brought to you by 9th grade geography class. I present to you Exhibit A, photos that my son took during class. (Using the phone during school hours is a topic for another time.) I was really confused at what I was looking at, are they mentoring elementary kids, was there a sub giving them busy work, what is with the odd cartoon character?

And that's when my son said they were given this two-sided worksheet to learn the states and capitals song. You've got to be kidding me. Back it up, these are high school students and they don't know the states and capitals yet? And you're going to teach it to them through a song that is complicated with at least one mispronunciation? Oh, and the worksheet has spelling errors too, where's my red pen? You can view this delight on YouTube to get the full effect of what I'm talking about.

I learned this material in 4th grade. We were given a map and we had to fill it in. No song, no multiple choice, not even a "draw a line to match". We just knew it. We changed school districts this summer, so does this suggest that none of the 600 other 9th graders have ever learned the states and capitals? Here's the icing on the cake. The class test average was 42%. Is it because as teenagers they were too cool to learn the song and tossed the worksheet in the trash, or are they incapable of knowing that Pierre is the capital of South Dakota, and it's not pronounced Pee-air!?And we wonder what is wrong with education in America.