My House of Cards

I have to admit that I love the post-Thanksgiving onslaught of holiday cards that find their way into my mailbox. SAMSUNG CSCThey come from all over the country – people I see every day and people I haven’t seen in years. Some are just of kids, some just dogs, and some are of extended families. They all get the same treatment of being taped to the pantry door.
As the pantry door starts to fill up, I tend to analyze the collection. It’s an interesting study in demographics that most normal people probably ignore. Am I crazy or does anyone else do it too?
As of December 25th, there are 29 cards on the pantry door (might be a few less next year after this piece is published). Of the 29, five are no-holds-barred Christmas cards. On the one hand, I admire those five cards – they just don’t give a crap. They’re celebrating Christmas and they just don’t care. On the other hand, well, we’re Jews and they know it.
Of the remaining 24, six have generic holiday greetings but are surrounded by Christmas trees, stockings, Santa, etc. Thirteeen are 100% generic. And five specifically say Happy New Year. So of the 29 cards, not a single one says the word Hanukkah. Happy Holidays is the phrase of choice by a long shot, but our collection is also peppered with some peace and some joy. Not a single Seasons Greetings though.
We’ve all seen some of the very funny holiday cards that go viral on the internet. None of the 29 on our pantry door will be doing so. Don’t get me wrong – they’re lovely – just completely humorless. I keep hoping for someone I know to turn it up a notch and do something ridiculous. Now it’s also fairly obvious that some people have photos taken by professional photographers, while others are taken via cell phone camera. I can tell that some photos are completely staged, and some are completely spontaneous. Some were taken specifically for this card, and some were taken in June because someone had a Groupon. Lots of people like to match or dress their kids exactly the same. Some are on extremely fancy card stock (I shook these envelopes to see if any residual cash fell out), and some are on flimsy photo paper. Some were clearly ordered months ago after careful planning, and some are last minute specials.
Only one of our cards included a family update letter or whatever it might be called. I always find these letters to be a bit odd since it’s clear that we don’t really talk to you anymore. If we did, we wouldn’t need the letter, now would we?
Two cards come from families without children, so the dogs play a prominent role. Of the remaining 27, twelve only feature the children. The cards are signed with the names of the entire family, but apparently, the parents are not card worthy.
Digital photography is both a blessing and a curse. It makes life a lot easier – especially when it comes to documenting the life and times of a family. But it also allows us to take an enormous amount of photos – many of which we are too lazy to delete. It also gives us way too many options when we attempt to create the perfect holiday card.  And some folks just can’t decide – leaving me with cards so jam-packed with photos that I need a magnifying glass to make out the faces.
And now to my craziest observation – one which might ruffle a few feathers. I’ve been tracking this trend for a few years, so I am now confident to share it with the masses. Generally speaking (before you yell at me, look up the word generally) – the cards that come from Jewish homes list the woman’s name first. And on the flip side, cards that come from non-Jewish homes list the man’s name first. Of this year’s 29 cards, eight have no names listed or just use a surname. So of the remaining 21 cards, 16 follow my rule.
Go look at your cards and see for yourself. What does it mean? Does it mean anything? Just a crazy coincidence each and every year?

  • Are there official etiquette rules for this (like listing names on a wedding invitation for example)?
  • Does the person who actually makes the cards tend to list his/her name first?
  • Is there a Romney-esque 1950’s theme here – where the man rules the house, king of the castle, head of the family?

So again, go look at your cards – tell me what you find. I’m curious.
And regardless of anything I said above, I still love getting them. I still love hanging them up. And in a few weeks, I’ll be tired of looking at them every time I reach for the box of Cheerios.
Since both Hanukkah and Christmas will have ended by the time this is published, I am safe in wishing everyone a Happy New Year!