Thirteen if you count the “Happy New Year’s!” cards that arrived after Christmas.
Facebook killed the Christmas card.
I continue to faithfully get cards from my two best high school friends, as well as a card from a former neighbor, who keeps me updated (this year, a stray cat had a litter of kittens in our old storage shed).
There are always cards from my husband’s Aunt Mary. She includes money in the kids’ cards. My husband and I get a calendar.
We always get a card from the neighbors, even though we already know what their kids look like.
I save every card from Jean and Tommy, because Jean creates her own beautiful illustrations each year.
When my husband and I were first married, I would pick out pretty Christmas cards at the store and write personal notes in each one, because just signing our names felt like cheating.
After the kids came along, I started writing a newsletter, because what’s the good in being a professional writer if I can’t show off?
We call it “The ABCDavises,” an alphabetical accounting of the year that was:
“A is for associate publisher of the Anniston Star, to which Bob was promoted.
“B is for the Big 5-0, which Lisa turned.
“C is for Cheaha Challenge, a 101-mile bike ride up Alabama’s tallest mountain and back, which Bob rode in April.”
(You, faithful readers, don’t get a Christmas newsletter because you should have been reading this stuff all year long.)
The first year we sent out “The ABCDavises,” a friend complimented it as a heartwarming celebration of all the little things that make up a family’s life together.
That’s good, because we felt really boring when we sat down to write this year’s newsletter. We’ve got the same jobs, mostly. Same extracurricular activities. No big trips; just short trips to the same old places.
In years past, we used to mail out more than 100 newsletters. This year, we have made the move to digital publishing, and will only mail out a dozen or so, which I will get to as soon as I finish writing this column, I promise.
I do miss the rituals that used to accompany the newsletter: shopping for festive paper and matching envelopes, dragging the kids to the post office to pick out holiday stamps, the complicated dance of mailing list management (after two years with no card from you, you’re dropped).
The digital newsletter still includes the annual Christmas photo of the kids, an experience that always makes me appreciate professional photographers.
When I whine and cajole, “C’mon, please, just look up and smile,” the hooligans always lean back, look straight up at the ceiling and grin wickedly.
This year, after squeezing my son into last year’s Christmas sweater vest, it took more than 50 takes to get a halfway decent photo.
I’m saving the outtakes for future blackmail.