If you have seen the Charlie Brown Christmas Special this year, or if you are a fan of Snoopy and Linus and the whole Peanuts gang, you remember the scene where Charlie Brown goes to the mailbox every day, hoping against hope that someone — anyone — has sent him a Christmas card. No one ever did. His dog, Snoopy, however, seemed to get a bundle of cards every day, causing a typical reaction from Charlie Brown. All together now. “Good grief!”
Well, if you have been traipsing to your mailbox every day since Thanksgiving, hoping to find a card from yours truly, you may be feeling like Charlie Brown right about now.
I have had good intentions. I really have. But you know what they say about good intentions and paving materials. It seems to be the same thing every year. Every single year I go to the store and stock up on really nice Christmas cards. Most years I even go to the post office and buy stamps. This year I bought the ones with the holy family making their way to Bethlehem — to be taxed.
Some things never change.
And every year — every single year — I fantasize about a cold wet day that isn’t fit for man nor beast. In my mind’s eye I see myself sitting on the couch, enjoying the Christmas tree with all of its lights and ornaments that have been handed down through the years. There is always a big fire and Bing Crosby on the hi-fi (I know; now I am just making up words) and there I sit, sipping from a steaming mug of hot chocolate, or maybe mulled cider, signing and addressing Christmas cards and pausing to write a little personal note in each — counting my blessings and remembering my friends, old and new.
Every year. Every single year. But it never works out. Life gets in the way. But this year — this was to have been the year, and I got my opportunity early this week. It was, indeed, cold and dreary — a kind of melancholy day. I put on a Christmas album — no, an album is not what you look at pictures in, not necessarily — and gathered my cards and stamps and pens and address books and began the pleasant task of writing Christmas cards. I was alone with my thoughts and the morning was very pleasant — for at least 10
Then came the reminders of why I never seem to get around to the task of sending out my cards. To begin with, I had lost the Christmas spirit by the time I got the first box of cards open. Why do they need to shrink wrap Christmas cards? Are there really people who will open a box right in the store and take out a card or two? And after I finally got the shrink wrap off there were three little plastic tabs holding the box top on.
I don’t know what they use to protect the gold supply at Ft. Knox, but I guarantee you, the card company can make it more secure with shrink wrap and plastic tabs than our government is doing with whatever they are using.
After I got the cards opened — and my finger bandaged up with Band-Aids — I signed my first card — Love, Darrell and Lisa. Before I could get the envelope addressed the phone rang. Not my cell phone that was right there on the couch beside me, but the landline. Yes, I still have one — for business.
I had to clear my lap of cards and envelopes and other clutter and run to the phone. It wasn’t a sales call, but they did want me to buy a security system. Go figure.
Finally I sat down, gathered my wits and all the items I needed and started again. The dog started barking to go out. Our dog is 14 years old and deaf — and very persistent. I learned the hard way that when a 14-year-old dog has to go, she has to go. Everything off the lap and open the door for the dog. Then back to the task at hand.
Phone rings again. I would let the machine get it but I had a trip to New York coming up — with 90 of my closest friends — and I needed to answer the phone. It was a salesman from a Canadian Pharmacy trying to help enhance my love life. If he only knew.
Back to the cards. Now the dog wants in. I tried to ignore her barking and addressed one card — to myself. Who can concentrate with all that noise? Like I said, she is deaf, so she can bark all day without being annoyed.
Empty lap, open door, almost sit back down, answer phone. Guy wanted to come buy and sell me life insurance. “Come on buddy, I told him. I’ll take all you got.”
He wanted to do a short health survey first. “Do you have any prominent medical problems?” was his first question, I mean right out of the chute.
“Nothing major,” I told him, then, “Oh, I do have stage four prostate cancer that has metastasized into my bones. They said I was terminal, but I feel pretty good right now.”
Guy said he’d call me back.
And that’s the way it went. Between the phone and the dog and the pen bursting and leaking all over my pants and the seat cushions and three delivery men needing signatures, I think I got four cards ready to go. I hope one was yours. If not, I will try again next year — starting around the Fourth of July.