I have enough adorable kid photos to fill a recycling bin.

When did Christmas cards become all about photos of people’s kids?

This is really two different things, in my mind. One is that so few people even send Christmas cards anymore. I know they’re a pain in the ass. Every year I think, “Oh, I can write Christmas cards while I wait for the laundry/cookies/dinner/this show on TV,” and every year I get halfway through and think, “Why the hell does it take so long to write some Christmas cards?!” But it’s tradition, and I think it’s lovely to actually spring for the $0.46 (and whatever the breakdown cost is for the card and envelope) to let someone know I’m thinking of them during this season.

As of right now, I have received 15 cards. That’s it. How sad is that? Granted, a lot of my friends and family are last-minute types, so maybe I’ll get a few more in the coming days, but I’m going to bet that I top off at 25, outside. Which means that half the people I send cards to don’t return the greeting. (I’m pretty sure that half the cards I’ve received only came because they got mine first.)

I haven’t even gotten a card from my parents yet.

Of the 15 cards I’ve received, eight are collages of kids. The only cards that came with art and not snapshots of precious children are the ones that came from people who don’t have children.

Here’s the irony: 20 years ago, these photo cards would have been grand. You know why? Because it would actually have been a year since I’ve seen some of these kids. I wouldn’t have been force-fed photos semi-weekly on social media since the day they were born. I have actually seen these kids grow up. Which means I have no need for photos of them in my mailbox.

Except my nephews and my niece. I’ll take those.

It’s not that I don’t like children; regular readers know that I do. It’s just that I don’t like narcissism. (And I have noted before the irony of disliking narcissism while being a blogger.) And I thought, for a while, that it was an affordability issue, but then I looked it up and it turns out… these cards are way more expensive than the photo-less ones I buy at a store. Way more!

I realize that many of you who are reading this right now might be photo-card-senders. Please understand that I don’t dislike the people who send them. I love them; that’s why I get cards from them, and why they get cards from me. But I guess I’m kind of old-fashioned in addition to being childless. I guess that means I don’t get it. When I was a kid, parents didn’t brag that much about their children. When my parents were kids, parents mostly thought their children were horrible burdens and gaping mouths clamoring to be fed.

It was a simpler time.

My cousin, who is single and childless (and 41 and has never moved out of her parents’ house, but I digress) also sent a photo collage card… but it was a collage of places she traveled to this year. She’s always been a little all about Eve, but once I got past that, I couldn’t help but like the idea. “In your face, Parents of Adorable Offspring. Did you get to go anywhere besides the grocery store this year? Nope.”

So, though I love all the kids who are peering happily at me from the meager string of cards I’ve collected, I’d like to ask that people do two things next Christmas:
1. Send an actual card
2. Try to make it about something other than themselves and their kids

Feel free to tell me I’m an asshole in the comments section.

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Like Taking Wine From A Baby’s Mama

I’m still getting used (I just tried to spell that “youst.” True story.) to the holiday festiveness of my new job. Today was the office Christmas party, complete with a baked goods contest and a white elephant gift exchange. Yes, a Christmas party. There was food that didn’t come out of a vending machine and by “party” I don’t mean merely “group of people working at the same time and eating simultaneously,” which is what “office party” meant in my old career.

Unfortunately, the white elephant exchange made me slightly violent, which may have spoiled the festivities a bit for me.

I didn’t participate in the gift exchange because I
         A) forgot about it; and
         2) didn’t go buy something for it.
So I got to watch, which was perfectly fine because I had already totally beasted a game of holiday-themed Taboo in which my VP, who had apparently never heard of nor played the game before, had totally bombed. She’s very competitive, so she was kind of pissed about it. Then she said something about hating angels because they’re dead babies. Which made me reevaluate my entire concept of what angels are. And made me plot to decorate her office with angels.

It was kind of a weird party.

Anyway, there were some pretty nice gifts in this exchange, including a bottle of sangria, a bottle of limoncello, a bottle of Bailey’s and a bottle of merlot. And I was sitting next to a coworker who is exactly no days away from her due date to deliver a child that she, quite frankly, looks terribly uncomfortable lugging around internally at this point. Friday she thought she was going to have him because he was breech and the docs decided to try to move him, but since that comes with a risk of elevated fetal stress, they also planned to induce her if there was a problem. She had gotten all psyched up to deliver, one way or another, and then she got to the doc and found out he’d flipped to head-down position and now she just has to wait him out. 

The woman needs a drink. Is what I’m saying.

So it was pretty great when she scored the bottle of sangria in the gift exchange.

But then Marty, having been relieved of his original gift and stuck with a stuffed school mascot, came over and took the wine away from the pregnant lady.

I did not make that up.

Marty is kind of an ass on a regular day, so if anybody was going to do this, it was going to be him. He’s affable enough, but he’s a blowhard and he is also, by virtue of a weird inter-divisional galactic hiccup, my client. For the most part we do just fine with each other, but it’s crap like this that makes me realize what a spazz he really is. 

When he triumphantly swiped the sangria from Ellen and replaced it with the stuffed school mascot he didn’t want, the entire room groaned as if to say, “Wow. You just did that.”

The game continued, with my artsy friend Dwight enamored with his Circle of Wetlands Creatures Holding Flippers Around a Candle candle holder (he walks to work and we had decided he should light the candle and then walk slowly home in the dark with it as though it were some sort of hippie-nature-commune-of-one parade for peace) and my boss struggling to open a package (the entire room watched him for what seemed like an endless three full minutes as he battled a curling ribbon without success). Something like seven people later, I was still stewing about Marty’s low move. Work Husband Rob and I schemed. Non-participants ourselves, maybe we could get someone to collude with us so Ellen could get her bottle back.

 “Psst. Donna,” I whispered across the table. “Donna! Donna!” 

Donna turned.

“When it’s your turn, are you willing to play along and take Ellen’s mascot so she can go get her sangria back from Marty?”

Donna winked. “Sure.”

Hehehehe.

Like thirty-two rounds later, it was Donna’s turn. “Gimme your mascot,” she said to Ellen with a smile.

“Go get your wine, girl!” I said.

Interestingly, though Ellen has had some trouble walking lately, she did not have any problem wobbling the length of the large conference room to get that sangria back from Marty, to the hoots and applause of the rest of the room’s occupants.

But two rounds later, another coworker (one who is not an ass), took the sangria.

You guys. What the hell?

These were childless men taking the sangria from the pregnant woman, by the way. Because of course.

So Ellen went trolling and found the bottle of merlot, which she swiped from the new guy who just started in the web department two days ago. And everyone applauded, including, by the way, the new guy who just started in the web department two days ago. 

Content with her merlot, Ellen situated herself in her chair again in whatever position was possibly less-than-miserable.

Two rounds later, we came to the end of the game… the part where the person who picked the first gift gets last dibs. Well, guess who had picked the first gift.

You got it. Marty. Marty, who, after several rounds of vindictive communal swiping in retaliation for his dick move with the sangria, found himself saddled with a bag full of stupid gag gifts.

“I swear to God,” I said to Ellen and Rob, “if he comes over here looking for that wine, I’m smacking his hand.”

The rat bastard came back and took Ellen’s merlot.

I smacked his hand and it had no effect.

You would think that, the first time you swipe a bottle of wine from a dilating woman, you’d learn to read the room. The faces of all persons gathered for Festivus reflected the same thought: “Really asshole? Really? Twice, you’re going to do that?”

You know what, Marty? Noted. Noted.

I looked at Rob across the table, rolled my eyes and said, “It’s really a wonder that he’s still single at the age of 46.”

But there was salvation at hand—as there always is on Christmas. Remember my friend Dwight, with the woodland creatures candle holder? He won the award for Best Baked Good in the blind taste test. Said award was a bottle of pink bubbly, which seemingly would suit him really well, except for the fact that Dwight has a deteriorating spine and is on medications so hard-core that he may be in violation of a few laws. Which means he can’t drink or he’ll die.

So he gave his bottle of bubbly to Ellen.

SCORE! Take THAT, Marty!

Naturally, I had a meeting with Marty right after the festivities were over. I was so seriously annoyed with him for being a douche rocket that I could barely speak. (I am apparently a little too invested in this matter.) But then as the meeting really got rolling, I started putting out a few ideas and he loved them. After a while, he told me I was on a roll.

“You know what?” he said. “Here. You win this for your ideas.”

And he handed me the bottle of merlot he had stolen from Ellen.

I played it cool. I didn’t want him to know what I was going to do with it. I acted like I didn’t really want it. I left it on the table between us, half-sure that he would take it at the end of the meeting. But wouldn’t you know… he picked it up off the table and handed it to me again. “This is yours,” he said.

And I walked that bottle of wine right over to Ellen.

Girlfriend went home with the merlot and the pink bubbly.

Hurry up, baby boy. Mama needs a cocktail.