Yesterday I went to a Lion’s Club out in the country to make Christmas cards for deployed soldiers. The frustrating, just glue-stick-it-together, popped-out-of-a-scrapbooking-machine cards I assembled and signed were on par with what I expected from the awkward scrappin’ moms crowd who were hosting the event. I myself am more the hands on uber-nutbar creative type who mixes her own inks, prints with a letterpress machine and makes her own paper, so you can imagine there was much cringing as I applied the foam Christmas icons to the card fronts, but it was for an excellent cause so I didn’t complain. I spent a good amount of time unnerving the ladies with my asymmetry and ‘misuse’ of frames, but whatever. They’ll live (or they unstuck them and redid mine after I left).
My issue with the day really wasn’t the lack of creativity in the cards so much as the lack of creativity in the messages people were putting into those cards. What most people don’t know is that there are more people over there fighting in Afghanistan who have no one to come home to than who do, so even a single Christmas card can make the biggest difference to someone. Therefore the message inside the card should really mean something, not just be something generic and trite.
Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be some weird Veterans Day rant or whatever. I don’t go for the flag waving chauvinism others do, and it’s cool if you do. It’s just not my scene. I support our troops, worry about their rights and safety, and really want to see them come home. Like now. Yesterday even. (I’m a physicist, I’m working on it). But I am also not going to write a scary, generic thank you for protecting our freedom message in there. It just seems so impersonal as to become disrespectful. I mean, imagine that the only thing you get for the holidays is this card, and it’s just some run of the mill “Thanks for your service.” Besides, the card kits come with an insert explaining to the recipient where the cards come from and thanking them profusely for defending our freedom.
I also didn’t want to get weird and write something too personal. So while I was contemplating what exactly to write, I perused some of the messages some of my scrappin’ compatriots imparted.
Okay so they weren’t all bad. My favorites were the ones little kids signed, their names in big crinkly letters or no letters at all. In the end most of what the ladies did was just rewrite the insert onto the blank bit of the card verbatim. So it says the same thing twice in the same card. (What else to expect from card-kit aficionados?) Nice. There were a lot of random removed thank-yous. I think the winner of all of them had to be the one someone signed ‘Fondly’. Seriously. Just ‘Fondly’. No message, no name. Fondly. How much more dispassionate can you get? Or maybe passionate – for all I know this lady has a certain kink for mystery men or soldiers and she was really saying ‘fondle-y’. You can imagine it bothered me enough that I couldn’t stop overthinking it which led to a rant about letter writing and salutations and got me on this whole thing about people formally signing letters with ‘Sincerely’ as though to prove that they aren’t lying. Everything in the body of this letter is truth. Sincerely.
Now all the scrappin’ ladies think I’m nuts – but funny – and offer me hot cocoa as a ‘relaxer’.
They didn’t seem to catch my point about what we put into the body of the card matters. (And more specifically that what they put in their cards was what I was contesting).
In the end I wrote little messages about how I hope that the card and the season finds the recipient well, that they are staying safe, and that I hope they come home soon. (Written a lot more eloquently than that I assure you.) I also mentioned that I would be thinking about whoever got my card, and all of our soldiers on Christmas. You know, that someone cares that they’re out there. And I mean it. I think it’s all too easy to forget what’s going on in the world. We are a culture of out of sight out of mind.
Everyone should get in on this card making gig. It can really make a difference in someone’s life. You can find resources online like www.operationchristmascard.org where you can get more information.
This is what comes of Mum trying to break out of her comfort zone and go somewhere she’s never been before and doing stuff she’s not into: Getting ‘lost’ within walking distance of the venue; seriously annoying unsupervised children; dangerously unsupervised children; glue sticks; scrappin’; hot beverages and a density of cookies that could probably irreversibly damage the space time continuum. (It might even give the universe diabeetus in that one spot. I should check the math.) I even spent some time hearing of the exploits of two women who are competitively breeding. No shet.
Later we would go back to the farm stand we were ‘lost’ at and spend $7 on a 20lb grab bag of squash, the purchasing of which involved highly detailed descriptions of the different varieties and flavors of each to other nervous patrons. (Why these people were nervous of squash is beyond me. Vegetable revolution perhaps? Fear of fiber?) This came at both the amusement of the farm staff and as a surprise to myself – as I had no idea that I even knew that much about that many pepo. Go me, squash genius.