Friday, December 16, 2011

953 The Holiday Card

953 The Holiday Card

Sometimes sending a holiday card takes more preparation and thought than buying a car or deciding which college to apply to.

The card in question is going overseas.  The recipient is on in years and though highly intelligent, cultured and literate, though his English is limited.  Also he doesn’t celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday.  So step one is finding a card that conveys a warm wish without a lot of words or that has pictures of decorated pine trees, crosses, Santas, snow- covered churches, and in this particular case, white people.

That’s a lot easier than it used to be in large urban areas.  Not so much in the sticks.  But it’s still possible, especially if you’re paying list price at Hallmark instead of buying the same card in, say, Wal-Mart or the 99-cent store.

Okay, so you have the card.  What about postage?  The Postal Service website can help you there.  First, wade through a dozen pages and find the list of countries.  Then pick the kind of mail you want to use.  In this case, it was “flat envelope with something stiff inside,” which is not the same as a letter of the same dimensions.  The e-z calculator reports this item will go to its destination for $2.47.

Then, what about stamps?  Christmas?  Holiday?  American flag?  Liberty Bell?  If you have current stamps, how many do you need to make $2.47?  The answer is 5.632.  Since the postal service won’t take “.632” that makes six stamps unless you have a supply of one or five cent stamps handy, which most of us don’t. Then it’s eight stamps at minimum.  But you have to put the address on the envelope in two languages, one they can read here and one they can read on the receiving end.  Too many stamps and you can’t fit everything on the envelope. Solution:  take it to the post office, where they have stamps of higher denominations.

Then, there is the return address label.  Use one with Santa’s face?  No.  Too Christmassy. How about one with a puppy’s face?  Nah.  Too cute.  One that advocates a cause?  Inappropriate.  One that gives only one name instead of “The so-and-so family?”  Too impersonal.  Hand written return address wins the contest even though there are 80 varieties of stickers in the drawer.

At the post office, the clerk says “that’ll be 98 cents, sir.”  Wait a minute.  Ninety eight cents?  What happened to $2.47?  “I don’t know what you’re talking about.  This card costs 98 cents to mail.”

That would have meant three stamps and we could have thrown the thing in the outgoing mail and not stood on line half an hour at the post office.

Shrapnel (Fashion Statement Edition):
--Sometimes when you don’t remember what you’re wearing, questions can be startling.  Like when the checker outer at the supermarket asks “are you wearing high heels?”  No, but I was wearing my official "High Heels Hot Flashes" hat and had forgotten.

--People who work very early in the morning and dress in the dark are prone to this:  A black shoe on one foot and a brown on the other.   Gotta get some night vision goggles to solve that one.  Oh, but wait... don’t they make everything look green?

--There are two men’s clothing items tied for the ugliest-possible-garment award.  They are the Polo shirt and the tie.  Good taste can mitigate the effect of the latter.  But the former is irredeemable.

Holiday Shopping Tip:
Pay for gift wrap if the service is available.  The store will do a better job than you will and do it faster.  The nominal fee is worth the expense because when you arrive home with the gifts after a day at the mall, the last thing you’ll want to do is haul out the paper and the tape and the tag and stick-on bows and start fooling with all that stuff when you want to be having dinner and vegging in front of the tube or computer for the evening.  Putting it off until tomorrow doesn’t help.  Tomorrow arrives and you still have to do all that stuff.  Throw a pad of sticky notes in your pocket or purse and use one for each wrapped box to make sure you remember who gets what.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to
© WJR 2011

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