I’m standing in the greeting card aisle of a store, choosing Christmas cards to send to family members. So many carefully crafted sayings chock full of sentiment stand straight in the filled rack. I pick up a card that catches my eye. A few seconds later I burst out laughing at the comical illustration and message. This is it - the perfect card for my sister.
My only sibling and I have different Christmas rituals. While my house is bordering chaotic, her Kansas home is neatly organized and beautifully adorned. We shop differently and our holiday menus bear no resemblance to each other. There is one aspect of the holiday season that we are in complete agreement with, however, and that is seeking out the funniest, usually semi-sarcastic, but clean Christmas cards we can send to each other.
This tradition became our thing after my family moved to Maine from Connecticut. I don’t know who started it, but it was probably her. The cards - not sarcasm. That gene runs long and hard in our family.
Our dad, who passed away in early 2012, was a funny guy. He loved to make people laugh, but sometimes you had to be quick to catch the joke. We are very much his daughters - that quick-witted sense of humor was ingrained in us from childhood. Reading funny greeting cards this time of year makes me think of my dad more than a flowery message could, knowing he would appreciate that his daughters started and kept this tradition.
This is why it’s common for me to be quietly (that’s a lie) chuckling to myself in the middle of the greeting card display as I narrow down my choice of cards. Part of me is tempted half the time to show a particularly funny card to whoever is in the aisle with me, but I don’t want to seem like some kind of nut. I’ve already got that covered several other ways.
Before anyone concludes that I lack a sense of what Christmas really means, that would be a gross miscalculation. My sibling’s beliefs and mine are deeply embedded in the significance and true meaning of Christmas. Sharing our ingrained sense of humor to outdo each other with laughter is simply our sisterly way of reaching out across the miles, and it is followed by more ‘appropriate’ family greeting cards. I’m all for the touching sentiment card creators provide us to convey our emotions, but sorry Hallmark, once a year we enjoy busting out in laughter – and maybe even a snort – in appreciation for our comically common ground.
My friend Dee is famous for bringing humor to a situation. From her home in Canada, she regularly sent jokes and funny messages to me via the hospital e-mail center when I was ill. Many friends graciously sent get well cards with touching personal messages, dropped off the cutest stuffed animals and other gifts, and made beautiful quilts and blankets, all of which were very much appreciated. Dee recognized the side of me that needed to laugh, and that was a special gift in itself.
It is my hope that our crazy card tradition will carry on for many years to come. Even as we’re rolling our eyes, my sister and I are thinking about each other, maybe choosing that moment to pick up the phone and say, “That was a sick card,” when we do connect. From Maine to Kansas, that’s what really matters to us. Connecting.