Holiday creativity includes sending fake family updates

December 1, 2019

It is time to deal with getting an early start to sending those holiday greeting cards. Greeting cards around this time of the year relay an informative message to friends and family members, and that message depicts everyone in your personal family and life as being hugely successful. The greeting card in the right hands, meaning my family, is the poster child for fake news.

Most of the time, you can read between the lines for the real message. This will save you a lot of embarrassment in the future. For instance,  anytime the message says the kids have decided to take a semester away to further their education at an institution of higher learning and will be eligible for graduation in four to six years, you can bet it has something to do with the penal system.

I know adult kids who are barely getting by on Hooked on Phonics, and yet somehow the photo enclosed shows them in front of an ivy-covered building suggesting a university or college. The sign indicating “Governor’s Mansion Tour Entrance” is naturally hidden by shrubbery and in front of the septic cleaning truck. Everything is about perception at this point.

Perhaps the card I dread the most, though, is the Christmas newsletter. Now, I know there are folks out there who send wonderful, thoughtful holiday letters at this time of year. The letters are short and full of interesting updates. But the senders are also thoughtful in that they mail them to people they are intimately acquainted with and who would find the newsletter informative. After reading one of these, most folks have the same response, “Who are these people anyway?”

Typically, I will get one of these from a relative whom I haven’t heard from in years, mostly because I thought they had passed away, and I could swear I attended their funeral. They describe their family tree as if it were a thesis paper on super genetic patterns. Naturally, the only thing missing here is their family on the cover of Time magazine, as among the hundred most influential people in America.

Of course, if you plan well enough ahead, you can send out one of my favorites, which is your own holiday greeting card with a photograph on the front. It is a must that everyone in the photo has to be wearing the same Norwegian hand-knit sweater and sporting identical capped teeth, and there are at least seven blazing fireplaces in the background. 

Sometimes it’s worth your while to just substitute a very good- looking family that lives in the neighborhood on the front of your own card; your family wouldn’t recognize you anyway, and you hardly have any friends. Heck, you could probably use a celebrity and no one would know the difference. And today you can photoshop mug shots. No one will notice the view is to the side.

I like cards that are personalized, myself.  This does take some effort. Sure, you can get one of those cardboard cutouts of a president or celebrity and put your arm around them, with the  greeting, “From our house to your house.” It will end up in the unbelievable pile. 

It’s good to reach out and touch someone by mail during these holidays, even if it is a fake family. Believe me, with all the bills pouring in, it will be a relief to whoever you send it to, even if it’s your septic service.

The best part of those holiday cards, though, is forgetting to put the stamps on them. That way, you can be assured of getting the cards right back. So, start early and send that message. It’s good to be creative. 

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter