18 December 2014

I never, ever learn.

I got sucked into a debate on Facebook, against my better judgment, about the issue of "holiday" cards.

Why, why, WHY do I never learn?

It started because someone with whom I am barely more than acquainted -- we knew each other somewhat in high school -- commented that she doesn't understand why people send out holiday cards without personalized messages, and likening doing so to sending out a Hallmark card and writing nothing inside.

And here's the grand hint that I should just have stayed out of it: She prefaced this judgment of people's cards by stating that she doesn't send cards and so "who am I to judge?"


I resisted the urge to comment all day, while literally dozens of comments piled up underneath the original status. Most of them were in agreement with the original sentiment, full of sarcasm and cynicism, or else self-congratulatory that they were not guilty of such a holiday card faux pas.

The original poster also added at some point that she should -- "hahahaha" -- send a "Happy Hanukkah" card to everyone who sent her a "Merry Christmas" card this year.

I reached the point in my evening where my biorhythms are apparently at a low ebb because I commented. My comment was thus:

I've been back and forth on jumping in here all day... My two cents is this: I think long and hard about which card I choose, so that it already contains the message I want to send. Then I personalize what can be personalized (which, on our card this year, was one measly line, not counting the part where I put our names). I could have added backside printing, but it's actually ridiculously expensive to do so. Also, even with my saving some time by printing address labels and printing return address labels, addressing, stamping and closing the envelopes took me the best part of a whole afternoon to do. Adding hand-written notes would have put it out of the realm of possibility as time commitments go. The project cost me probably $200 (maybe more, as I had leftover holiday stamps from last year which kept the cost down artificially) and, as I said, a whole afternoon. Trust me, anyone who got a Christmas card from us got a whole lot of my time and attention, even if they didn't get any sort of individually personalized note. Our card is unapologetically Christmas -- even religious-Christmas -- themed because that's what's important to me, and I would not mind one bit getting a Happy Hanukkah card from any of my Jewish friends.

So basically: I do think of everyone to whom I'm mailing a card, it's cost-and-time prohibitive but I think it's worth it even without a hand-written personal note, and go ahead and send me a Hanukkah card if you're Jewish and celebrating Hanukkah. I had no intention of flaming anyone, and I sincerely think I hit the right note. At least I don't think I hit any wrong, jarring note. 

Oh, ho ho. That's adorable. Colleen, you're an idiot.

Her response came back thus:
That's fine and you and everyone else is entitled to do what they want. But I disagree with just about everything you've said. Should you care about my opinion? Absolutely not. I would find it perhaps a little sad to get a Christmas card, especially a religious one, from a close friend. It's important to you, but the message would be that you don't care about what's important to me. We can agree to disagree because this opens up a much bigger discussion. The point is we all make choices about the holidays. Some people put a lot of thought into their cards, and it sounds like you do. Others do it for the sake of jumping on the bandwagon, and it's disingenuous. I don't send cards, but you can be sure that I show my friends and family my affection in other ways. And why anything I've said here was taken personally, especially by people who never even sent me any cards is beyond me.
I have to admit: it makes me sad that someone would be made sad by receiving my religious Christmas card. I know that everyone is not religious; my sending you a card that includes Isaiah's prophecy is not an attempt to shame you and it is certainly not because I'm trying to show you that I think what I care about is more important than what you care about. But the point is that I'm not going to take the Christ out of Christmas for anyone -- especially since I'm ordering custom photo cards in bulk, and thus can obviously only choose one design.

Besides, if someone is your good friend and they send you a religious card, shouldn't you know them well enough to know that they're not trying to subtly jab you?

But really what left me feeling like I was trying to reason with a crazy person was the last line. "I've made a blanket, judgmental statement in a semi-public forum that applies to a lot of people who might be reading this. But you didn't even have the good manners to send me a card, person I barely know, so why should you think this has anything to do with you?"

You know what, it doesn't. I was trying to stand up for some of the people who had commented on the thread who weren't doing an eloquent job of doing it for themselves. And the tone of her response is so out of line that I think I probably did hit a chord with her. And maybe she'll think twice next time before she blurts potential ugliness all over Facebook.

But I'm never going to know because I followed my own Facebook rule (which is: if your posts make me anxious and/or cause me to question your intelligence and/or cause me to question your sanity, there's a three-strike rule before I stop reading what you write) and unfollowed her immediately! Isn't it wonderful that you can do such a thing and no one ever has to know?

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