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Season's greetings from ... well ... someone

Dear Friends and Family …

… as well as any other stray spambots, survey takers, long-lost Nigerian princes claiming to be a long-lost cousin, special-deal offerers and the occasional wrong-number dialers who might or might not be part of my calling plan's terms and conditions (which, btw, tl;dr).

Well, it’s time once again for the annual holiday/year-end letter — most of which begin with some variation of the phrase, “Well, it’s time once again …”

Dog days of December missives from friends and family ...  etc. ... who are scattered hither and yon have become such a tradition that they have leveled a truckload of trees (both tangible and bandwidth) as subject matter for columns citing their merits and mundanity from writers stuck for an idea this time of year.

Oh, wait.

And, let’s face it … we’re tired. It’s been a long 2017; we’ve been bombarded by blithering buffoons from various viewpoints within our Venn diagram social structure … and, frankly, we’re done listened out.

Now, here comes "news" from afar dropping onto our doorsteps (both tangible and bandwidth) during this bleak midwinter malaise. We all must share the burden of more mush from the wimp who otherwise hasn’t contacted you for 12 months.

Be honest now: How many of these memos do you read completely, from “Well, it’s time once again” to “Until next year”? And how many times do you receive a card or letter from someone, then scurry about finding a spare greeting of your own to send back the other way?

My mother's heart positively grew three sizes too small those days when she managed this Great Holiday Greeting Scorecard.

She maintained an address ledger that had a checklist of “Sent” and Rec’d” columns, and would dutifully note each outgoing and incoming card. If someone on the other end of her clearance sale offerings of seasonal warmth failed to reciprocate for two consecutive years … their address would be obfuscated by the dreaded Giant X.

I was fascinated by her dedication to maintaining a Christmas tradition, and sat nearby mainlining Nestle's Quick as she went to work; and I could understand that she might feel closure by crossing out someone naughty from her list.

But, most of all, I was flummoxed that she used a red pen to mark the offending Heather Prynnes. It was unlikely that anyone — those in good standings or those who’d fallen from grace — would ever get to leaf through the pages to see who’d rec’d the scarlet X.

Still, there’d she sit — fuming and chain-smoking Newports — as the no-longer-worthy would get snuffed out in a prehistoric act of unfriending.

These days, we get holiday letters that come as an attached document to generic emails saying how much we’re in someone’s heart; and “e-cards” with a holiday scene and elevator music that provide a handy “Skip to the End” link if you just want to see who sent it.

It’s the obesity of all this overwrought obligation that dulls our middle-age spreading of holiday cheer. This past week, for instance, I heard three laments that likely will strike a chord with many others.

One was from someone who could no longer figure out what to give his aging father, who apparently was not only difficult to please, but had little need or use for “things.”

Another was from someone who had spent considerable time and energy decorating the house in anticipation of visiting relatives — who at the last minute had changed their itinerary, and left her staring at twinkling lights and gilded trinkets that she’d have to spend considerable time and energy putting away.

And the third was from someone who’d received a gift from an unexpected source, and was now struggling with the holiday guilt of responding in kind.

I might be wrong about all this, but I’m pretty sure that some of this ingrained inertia we set into motion to “celebrate” the season is simply the self-imposed treadmill of tradition that drags our feet on a guilt trip.

Then again, what do I know … somewhere out there, there’s a red X through my name.

Oh well… until next year!

— Copy editor Robert Galvin (rgalvin@mailtribune.com) will be emailing a Mail Tribune website link to this column to everyone on his holiday list.